‘It was hell’: Long lines of Ukrainian refugees at Poland border | Russia-Ukraine crisis News

Medyka, Ukraine-Poland border – Heat rays of the morning solar take away the final indicators of frost from the automobiles parked in infinite strains alongside the street.

Medyka – the principle border crossing between Poland and Ukraine – is slowly waking up, and so are dozens of women and men who spent the night time in parking heaps, ready for his or her family members to reach.

For the reason that starting of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, greater than 115,000 refugees have crossed into Poland, the Polish Ministry of Inner Affairs mentioned on Saturday. Anybody from Ukraine is allowed entry, even those that don’t maintain legitimate passports, Polish officers mentioned.

The United Nations Refugee Company says greater than 120,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the nation since Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday.

Ukraine refugees at Poland borderFor some refugees, it takes greater than 24 hours to cross the border between Ukraine and Poland [Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska/Al Jazeera]

However for many Ukrainian refugees, it took days to flee the warfare.

Helena, 49, from Drohobych in western Ukraine, is sipping tea and consuming a sandwich she acquired from volunteers. She has household in Poznan, Poland, and he or she is aware of the arduous journey will quickly be over.

But it surely took her 24 hours to cross the border and arrive to security. “It was hell,” she advised Al Jazeera earlier than she burst into tears.

For Denis, a 30-year-old from Chernivtsi, Ukraine, who works at building websites in Poland, it was a troublesome night time as properly. He arrived at Medyka on Thursday to satisfy his spouse and youngsters coming from Ukraine. However after an entire night time of ready, they had been nowhere in sight.

“They’ve been on the border for over 24 hours. In the beginning, they needed to cross on foot but it surely was arduous, in order that they discovered a bus. No less than it’s not as chilly as outdoors,” he mentioned.

“However for the previous 5 hours or so, they don’t seem to be letting anybody by means of. It’s unclear why.”

Whereas Denis’s spouse and youngsters are on their strategy to reunite with him, his mom determined to cross again into Ukraine. She didn’t wish to be away from her husband and two different sons, who would possibly quickly obtain a name for service.

“My father fought in Afghanistan and he is aware of what a warfare is like,” Denis mentioned.

“He was able to sacrifice his life for the Soviet Union. Now he is able to sacrifice his life for Ukraine towards the brand new Russian energy,” he mentioned.

“It’s a paradox. However everybody can see what the Russians are doing. They took Crimea, Donbas, now they need Kharkiv.”

Instead of fleeing war, hundreds of Ukrainians return homeAs a substitute of fleeing warfare, lots of of Ukrainians return dwelling [Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska/Al Jazeera]

Denis advised Al Jazeera he would possibly be a part of the combat too, however first desires to verify his spouse and youngsters are secure. In per week or two, he mentioned, if the enemy is nearer to his hometown of Chernivtsi, he should take up arms.

“If they arrive nearer to our houses, we should return and combat. For thus a few years, we’ve labored to construct the nation that even when a few of us go away, others should keep. If everybody leaves, who will defend us?” Denis requested.

For the primary half of the day on Friday, extra folks crossed into Ukraine than had been seen leaving the border – a puzzling paradox in a time of mass exodus.

Ukrainian refugees additionally complained about ready hours to obtain the Polish stamp, lack of meals obtainable within the passage between Ukraine and Poland, and extreme chilly within the area.

Amid the border chaos, volunteers handed out water, heat garments and blankets to the conscripts crossing into Ukraine to affix the combat.

The gear will enable girls and youngsters – stranded between Poland and Ukraine and nonetheless ready for an opportunity to get to security – to outlive one other freezing day.

Polish and Ukrainian volunteersPolish and Ukrainian volunteers work day and night time in any respect border crossings to offer water, sizzling drinks and meals to refugees arriving from Ukraine [Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska/Al Jazeera]

Yelena, a 43-year-old refugee herself, is among the volunteers handing out the gadgets.

She arrived in Poland nearly a 12 months in the past from Belarus. When she discovered that Russia had launched a full-scale invasion towards Ukraine, she didn’t wish to keep idle.

“I needed to affix the warfare. The Polish border guard let me by means of, however the Ukrainians didn’t. You already know why? As a result of I’ve a Belarusian passport,” Yelena advised Al Jazeera.

“All sort of assist is required there: somebody has to cook dinner, somebody has to care for the wounded. I even tried to cross a second time, however to no avail.”

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Yelena mentioned she then destroyed her Belarusian passport in protest towards the warfare and joined the Ukrainian and Polish volunteers on the border.

“I really feel ashamed for Belarus. Ukraine has to win this warfare,” she mentioned. “Slava Ukraini [Glory to Ukraine].”

She then handed a blanket and several other bottles of water to a younger man coming into the border crossing in the direction of Ukraine.

Olga is ready in the identical queue. She stands out from the remainder of the group; her lengthy, trendy coat with quirky patterns and impeccable hair attracts consideration.

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Olga and her boyfriend Sergey had been ready for a flight again to Ukraine at an airport in Vilnius, Lithuania, once they heard in regards to the warfare unfolding of their homeland.

“We went to Lithuania for a weekend and we acquired caught in there. Our flight dwelling was cancelled. For the primary few hours, we couldn’t perceive what was occurring, we couldn’t imagine it,” the 33-year-old everlasting make-up artist advised Al Jazeera.

She now hopes that after again in Ukraine, she is going to be capable to volunteer in a hospital as a nurse. She mentioned she desires to make herself helpful.

Her boyfriend Sergey is 38, which suggests he’s within the conscription age. He works as a sound director and has by no means held a gun.

But when his abilities aren’t sufficient to help the battle, he can be taught new ones, he says with an air of confidence. “No matter it takes to assist the nation.”

It took the couple two days to get from Vilnius to the border. All buses on the route had been cancelled, and there have been no trains both. Ultimately, “Lithuanian brothers” drove them straight to Medyka.

Whereas Sergey is afraid of warfare, he says it by no means crossed his thoughts to remain elsewhere in Europe.

“There’s one Ukraine and we are able to’t lose it. It’s our homeland and it’ll by no means be Russia.”

Fleeing to the border: Some 120,000 Ukrainians seek refuge

A Polish border guard assists refugees from Ukraine as they arrive to Poland on the Korczowa border crossing, Poland, Saturday. (Czarek Sokolowski, Related Press)

Estimated learn time: 3-4 minutes

WARSAW, Poland — Tens of 1000’s of Ukrainians rushed to the borders as invading Russian troops pressed their advance into Ukraine and towards the nation’s capital Saturday in Europe’s largest floor conflict since World Struggle II.

Some walked many miles by means of the evening whereas others fled by practice, automotive or bus, forming traces miles lengthy at border crossings. They had been greeted by ready family members and buddies or headed on their very own to reception facilities organized by governments.

With the world revolted at Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine, a Western-looking democracy, there was an enormous outpouring of assist for the fleeing Ukrainians. This included an unconditional welcome from nations like Poland that always didn’t need to settle for these fleeing battle and poverty within the Center East and Africa in previous years.

Practically 120,000 folks have thus far fled Ukraine into Poland and different neighboring nations within the wake of Russian invasion, the U.N. refugee company mentioned Saturday. The quantity was going up quick as Ukrainians grabbed their belongings and rushed to flee from a lethal Russian onslaught on their nation, together with an try and take the capital of Kyiv.

One household from Chernivtsi in western Ukraine waited 20 hours earlier than with the ability to cross the border into Siret in northern Romania. Natalia Murinik, 14, cried as she described saying goodbye to grandparents who could not go away the nation.

“It actually damage, I need to go residence,” she mentioned.

The biggest numbers had been arriving in Poland, the place 2 million Ukrainians have already settled to work lately, pushed away by Russia’s first incursion into Ukraine when it annexed Crimea in 2014 and searching for alternatives within the booming economic system of the European Union neighbor.

Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. The U.N. refugee agency says nearly 120,000 people have so far fled Ukraine into neighboring countries in the wake of the Russian invasion.
Refugees from Ukraine arrive on the Medyka border crossing in Poland, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. The U.N. refugee company says almost 120,000 folks have thus far fled Ukraine into neighboring nations within the wake of the Russian invasion. (Photograph: Visar Kryeziu, Related Press)

Poland’s authorities mentioned Saturday that greater than 100,000 Ukrainians had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border previously 48 hours alone. On the Medyka border crossing, the road of automobiles ready to enter Poland stretched 9 miles into Ukraine.

Poland declared its border open to fleeing Ukrainians, even for these with out official paperwork, and dropped its requirement to indicate a unfavourable COVID-19 check.

“We are going to assist everybody,” the Polish Border Company mentioned. “We is not going to go away anybody with out assist.”

On Saturday, Poland despatched a hospital practice to choose up these wounded within the conflict in Mostyska, in western Ukraine, and convey them to the Polish capital of Warsaw for therapy. The hospital practice left the border city of Przemysl and has 5 carriages to move the wounded and 4 others stocked with humanitarian help for Ukraine’s Lviv district.

These arriving had been principally ladies, kids and the aged after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday banned males of army age from 18 to 60 from leaving the nation. Some Ukrainian males had been reportedly heading again into Ukraine from Poland to take up arms towards the Russian forces.

“Virtually 116,000 have crossed worldwide borders as of proper now. This may increasingly go up, it is altering each minute,” mentioned Shabia Mantoo, the spokeswoman of the U.N. Excessive Commissioner for Refugees, on Saturday morning. “It is very fluid and altering by the hour.”

Mantoo mentioned most Ukrainians had been heading to neighboring Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia however some even fled into Belarus — from which some Russian forces entered Ukraine. Some deliberate to go additional on to different nations in Europe.

The company expects as much as 4 million Ukrainians may flee if the state of affairs deteriorates additional.


We are going to assist everybody. We is not going to go away anybody with out assist.

–Polish Border Company


The border submit in Siret was crowded with Ukrainians arriving on Saturday. Just a few miles in, humanitarian teams had arrange tents and supplied foods and drinks to these arriving.

However the destiny of teenager Natalia Murinik’s household was now unsure, they usually did not know the place they had been going subsequent.

“We do not have a clue. We’re ready for our buddies, after which we’ll assume,” she mentioned.

Contributing: Jamey Keaten; Stephen McGrath

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Russia shuts airspace along western border with Ukraine, Belarus | News

The transfer comes after President Putin introduced a ‘particular army operation’ within the Donbas area.

Russia on Thursday introduced the closure of its airspace for civilian flights on the western border with Ukraine and Belarus.

A Discover to Airmen or Discover to Air Missions (NOTAM) was revealed after Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced a particular army operation within the Donbas area.

“The usage of airspace on Russia’s western border with Ukraine and Belarus has been quickly suspended as a result of excessive menace to the security of flights of civilian plane after the usage of weapons and army gear,” an announcement mentioned.

In one other assertion on Thursday, the Russian defence ministry mentioned it was utilizing “high-precision weapons” to disable air defence methods, army airports, and the air power in Ukraine.

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On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin authorised “a particular army operation” in opposition to Ukraine to eradicate what he referred to as a severe menace, saying his goal was to demilitarise Russia’s southern neighbour.

In an early morning handle on state tv, Putin mentioned he had been left with no alternative however to launch the operation, the scope of which was not instantly clear however appeared to go nicely past serving to Russian-backed separatists in jap Ukraine.

“I’ve determined to conduct a particular army operation,” mentioned Putin, seated at a desk within the Kremlin subsequent to a battery of telephones, with the Russian flag behind him.

“Its objective is to guard individuals who have been subjected to bullying and genocide … for the final eight years. And for this, we’ll attempt for the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine.

“And to convey to court docket those that dedicated quite a few bloody crimes in opposition to civilians, together with in opposition to residents of the Russian Federation.”

Ukraine dismisses as invented Russian accusations of genocide in opposition to individuals dwelling in components of its east seized by Russian-backed separatists in 2014.

Kyiv has mentioned Putin was on the lookout for a synthetic pretext to assault it.