19:10 Jun. 10, 2016
Official statistics say there are more than 1.7 mln of IDPs in Ukraine, while actual number may be much higher
Central European countries ask the European Union to free up funds to help Ukraine deal with a growing number of people displaced by conflict.
Ukraine is battling Russian-backed separatist forces in the eastern Donbas region and a ceasefire agreement negotiated with the help of Western powers is largely not holding.
In a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary said the number of internally displaced persons in Ukraine had reached more than 1.7 million by March.
"Today in Prague we signed a common letter to the European Commission Chairman in which we appeal to the Commission to set aside financial aid for creating funds for a regional programme of development for Ukraine to support them this way," Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told a news conference.
Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - which along with the Czech Republic make up the Visegrad Group - border Ukraine and would be most affected by migration from the former Soviet republic.
"There is no indication that conflict will be solved in the near future and that the number of internally displaced persons in Ukraine has reached its maximum," the letter said.
It requested the EU's executive to free up funding for a Regional Development and Protection Programme, which the bloc has used in Jordan and Iraq.
The programme would help Ukraine beef up state institutions to handle the rise in displaced people and refugees. The countries said they were ready to lead this programme.
The leaders of the four countries met before an EU summit due to discuss issues including migration on June 28-29.
Reporting by REUTERS