EU says expects millions of displaced Ukrainians

EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, March 10, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

BRUSSELS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The EU's executive said on Sunday that Europe was facing its biggest humanitarian crisis in many years following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the number of Ukrainians internally displaced by the strife could be more than 7 million.

"We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years. The needs are growing as we speak," said Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management

"So for the humanitarian situation overall, the currently expected number of displaced Ukrainians is over 7 million," he told a news conference in Brussels after a special meeting of EU member states' interior ministers to discuss the crisis.

Citing U.N. estimates, he said around 18 million Ukrainians will be affected by the conflict in humanitarian terms in the country or neighbouring countries, 7 million internally displaced and 4 million who flee the country as refugees.

"Even though these are very rough estimates, the figures are huge, and we have to prepare for this kind of emergency, which is of historical proportions," Lenarcic added.

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold and John Chalmers; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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