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Thousands flee from fighting in Ukraine

A boy looks at a woman as they flee from the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk. Credit: Shamil Zhumatov, Reuters

Thousands of people are fleeing eastern Ukraine the ceasefire between the country's armed forces and pro-Russian militia nears its end, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Many cited fighting, threats and fears of abduction and the destruction of state services, the agency said.

Some 16,400 people fled their bringing the number of displaced within the country to 54,000, they added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the violence is forcing tens of thousands of Ukrainians to seek refuge in his country and called for a long term ceasefire.