Russia’s war against Ukraine has spawned over 1 million refugees in just one week

MEDYKA, Poland – Within a few days Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Last week, the line of cars with fleeing people at the country’s border with Poland was already 55 miles long.

In wet snow and cold rain, mothers began abandoning their cars to walk for hours, nudging exhausted children as they lugged their strollers and suitcases across the street.

Nearby, crammed limousines, running out of gas, inch by inch to a modest checkpoint that usually serves half a dozen people at a time, often day-trippers who come into the duty-free zone to buy cigarettes.

Inside the checkpoint, two Ukrainian immigration officials have been desperate to keep up with one of the fastest exodus from any country in modern history.

In just a week since then the war with Russia started, more than a million refugees left Ukraine, most heading west to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.

Ukrainian women with children pass through the police checkpoint near the border in Krościenko on Tuesday.

At the current rate, more asylum seekers will have entered the European Union in a matter of days by the weekend than in all of 2015, when 1.3 million people from the Middle East and Africa entered the EU. That would make the rush from Ukraine the continent’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

Most people are Escape to a single country, Polandwhere helicopters buzz over the militarized border between Ukraine and the US-led NATO alliance.


How will the Ukrainian diaspora change the way the European Union deals with refugees? Join the conversation below.

The sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of people has shaken many European governments, which did not face a Russian invasion as imminently as the US and did not anticipate the massive exodus.

Two days into the war, which began last Thursday, no EU member state had requested tents, blankets or other basic necessities from the bloc’s emergency reserves.


Foreign students who escaped the war in Ukraine wait to board a bus bound for Przemyśl, Poland, on Monday.


Ukrainian refugees arrive in Przemyśl on Monday, where volunteers offer food, toiletries and medical assistance.

On the eve of the conflict, Polish local governments were still scouting potential locations — city halls, stadiums, schools — for an influx that they estimated would total no more than a million people.

A week later, Poland has managed more than half.

It took a procession of volunteers on both sides of the border to deal with the mass displacement of Ukrainians. In street-side villages in Ukraine lined with fields of wheat and lavender, elderly residents set up stalls selling free groceries from their own pantries, while shelves at local gas stations were empty. Others walked alongside traffic offering soup and oatmeal to passengers stuck in cars and families trailing alongside them.

“I saw hundreds of them, mothers with children, driving by the cars day and night,” said a 29-year-old IT worker who was in her car for four days before entering Poland. “They are literally dragging their feet and these kids. They have no energy and strength. They throw their luggage in the ditch because they can’t take it with them.”

Many of the refugees traveled to the border in trains full to the brim with women and children, lights out, curtains drawn and cell phone reception blocked. The journey, usually around two hours, took 18 as the train stopped for hours, running slowly on alternative tracks.

On the Polish side, in the border town of Przemyśl, a crew of volunteers turned a parking lot across from a shopping center into a small tent city and ushered confused refugees onto buses. Nearby stood a line of people holding cardboard signs for countries to which they were willing to offer free travel: the Netherlands, Italy, Germany or France. Kitchen teams fried chocolate crepes for children and offered toiletries and medical assistance.


Clothing, blankets and hygiene items from aid organizations are piled up on the side of the road in Medyka, Poland.


In Przemyśl on Monday, people are waiting to offer refugees free rides to nearby European countries.

“Nobody told us to come here. Nobody, including us, knew what to do. We had to find out for ourselves,” said a volunteer who was trying to find medicine for a group of sick children.

A government spokesman said the mobilization of volunteers has allowed authorities to process the historic influx of refugees. “We act together as a state and as a society,” he said. “So the synergy effect of state and society is incredibly helpful for the guests from Ukraine.”

Regardless of the duration and outcome of the warit is likely that the conflict will dump a huge diaspora of Ukrainians in the EU and reshape politics, society and the refugee population on the continent.

Ukrainian arrivals in neighboring countries





The UN refugee agency expects four million Ukrainians to seek refuge outside the country, a number that could rise depending on the severity of the war. On Thursday, the European Commission is expected to approve two-year residency and work permits for Ukrainians joining the bloc, measures that will also give them access to housing, medical care, schools and social assistance.

The massive movement of people is likely to have long-term repercussions for Europe, particularly Poland, whose population has remained steady at 38 million since 1987. The country has had very few ethnic and other minorities fleeing or finding themselves on the Soviet side of the newly drawn borders since World War II, when the Nazi occupiers wiped out Poland’s huge Jewish community.

After In 2014 Russia occupied CrimeaBetween one and two million Ukrainians moved to Poland, establishing a vast new diaspora that has become a fixture in a country historically used to emigration.

The Polish government has tried to limit the influx of asylum seekers, mainly from the Middle East and Africa.who tried to invade this winter from Belarus, and she opposed an EU plan to relocate refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015, mostly from Syria. But it has welcomed these Ukrainians who speak a similar language and have found jobs in everything from local businesses and restaurants to real estate.

When Kherson became the first Ukrainian city to come under Russian occupation, people hid in their homes. According to the United Nations, more than a million people fled Ukraine in the first week of the war. Photo: Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images

This diaspora is likely to expand into Western Europe.

Over 5,000 refugees have been registered in Germany since hostilities began last week, and over 1,300 people came to Berlin by train on Tuesday alone. Many were on their way to relatives in other countries, such as Italy.

At Krościenko, a tiny border post in the Polish mountains, Ukrainians crossing the border are met by friends and relatives arriving in cars from Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Latvia or Lithuania.

Just hours after the Russian President

Wladimir Putin

announced the invasion in an early morning speech last Thursday, a line of cars and crowds of pedestrians formed on Ukraine’s western border with Poland’s Medyka.

Soon the border point was congested, and the refugees stood eight hours before they could cross on foot.

“It’s pure chaos here. All our buses are full,” a bus driver said last week. “That’s just the beginning.”


Crowds at the train station in Przemyśl, Poland.


Dawid Zielinski for the Wall Street Journal

On the Polish side, bus drivers jostling for a seat in the narrow streets argued loudly as confused refugees stumbled over, including Diana Kurzienkova, a 21-year-old Ukrainian escorting her eight-year-old sister. Her phone pinged with Viber and Telegram messages from other Ukrainians who were out and about.

On Friday, cold rain pelted a line of refugees waiting more than 20 hours to cross. In a Polish town near the border, local authorities begged their bosses to send tents, power generators or bed sheets, only to learn an emergency supply depot they had relied on didn’t have them.

“They just didn’t believe us that the scale of this crisis is so overwhelming,” a local official said. Eventually, the fire department sent buses to collect refugees on the Polish side, and cooperation improved.

Cars were parked more than a mile on the Polish side of each of the major border crossings while relatives waited for their loved ones to cross the border. On the Ukrainian side, paramedics rushed through a group of families waiting homeless in the cold and wet weather. Volunteers delivering groceries faced a crush of people who immediately emptied their boxes.

By Saturday, the wait to enter Poland had grown to two days, with some walking 25 miles to the border. Cases of diarrhea and other diseases began to spread on the Ukrainian side of the border, while scuffles broke out as refugees fought for space at the gates.

Ukrainian border guards began detaining refugees from Africa and the Middle East left aside for days, giving priority to the Ukrainians, who were mostly mothers with children.

As they drove through the green metal gate into Poland, firefighters packed their bags and wheeled them onto waiting buses while others helped carry children.

“We’re short on volunteers, so many refugees,” said a volunteer who helps refugees who stumble into a parking lot to guide their next step.

write to Drawn Hinshaw

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8 Russia’s war against Ukraine has spawned over 1 million refugees in just one week

Ethan Gach is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button