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Civilians flee Russian attacks on Ukraine, U.N. 'gravely concerned'

Traffic jams a highway in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday as Russian troops entered the country. Photo by Sergey Dozhenko/EPA-EFE
Traffic jams a highway in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday as Russian troops entered the country. Photo by Sergey Dozhenko/EPA-EFE

Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Thousands of civilian were fleeing amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine Thursday amid reports of deaths and injuries.

"We have already seen reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety," the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said Thursday in a statement.

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UNCHR said it's working with authorities and partners in Ukraine and is ready to provide assistance wherever "necessary and possible."

"We are gravely concerned about the fast-deteriorating situation and ongoing military action in Ukraine," UNCHR said. "The humanitarian consequences on civilian populations will be devastating. There are no winners in war, but countless lives will be torn apart."

Ukraine's Interior Ministry said up to 10 civilians and more than 40 soldiers were killed in the early hours of the fighting, CNN reported.

Civilians are fleeing Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, with massive traffic jams around the city. The New York Times reported.

Videos on social media show Kyiv residents fleeing as air raid sirens blared.

More than 4,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled across the border from Ukraine into Moldova, which has said it will accept tens of thousands of refugees, BBC News reported. Romania, Poland and Austria also are preparing to take in refugees.

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"We expect much larger numbers," Roland Schilling, regional representative of the U.N. Refugee Agency, told the BBC from Chisinau.

The U.N. said large lines are forming at Ukrainian border crossings as civilians attempt to flee the combat.

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