People take part in a rally in support of the Ukraine after Russia invaded the Ukraine, in Edmonton on Thursday February 24, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Ukrainians need support, not resettlement: UNHCR

OTTAWA — The Canadian representative for the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, says it’s too early to begin to resettle Ukrainian refugees who have fled Russian aggression in their country by the thousands.

Rema Jamous says the scale of displacement from Ukraine is daunting, as some 500,000 people have already fled to neighbouring countries seeking safety.

If trends continue, the UNHCR estimates there could be as many as four million Ukrainian refugees.

Still, Jamous says most people who left Ukraine hope to return home when it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, she says, refugees inside and outside of Ukraine’s borders will need humanitarian support, as current resources are likely to be depleted quickly.

The UNHCR will discuss resettlement options with countries like Canada at a later stage, but Jamous says typically the demand from people looking for a new home far outstrips the opportunities offered by governments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2022.