‘I had never left Ukraine before’, refugees seek family, friends abroad


MEDYKA, Poland/WARSAW (Reuters) – Kateryna’s dad and mom woke her at 5 a.m., informed her to pack her paperwork and cellphone and flee from their residence in Dnipro in japanese Ukraine to kinfolk in Poland.

It took the 19 year-old three days to succeed in the Medyka border crossing in Poland, some 1,000 km (620 miles) from Dnipro. It was the primary time she had travelled alone, with out household or friends.

But ready to board a prepare to stick with an aunt dwelling within the western Polish metropolis of Wroclaw simply hours after she arrived within the nation, Kateryna, who didn’t give her final identify, stated she now felt secure.

“Everybody helped me a lot,” she stated.

Aid companies say that like Kateryna most of the 1.3 million individuals who have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24 have ties to the big Ukrainian diaspora – household or friends, with whom they will seek shelter.

That has helped relieve strain on government-sponsored reception or refugee centres which have cropped up alongside Ukraine borders throughout central Europe in faculties, convention centres and tents.

It has additionally meant the refugee disaster, the quickest transferring in Europe since World War Two, has but to supply the sort of huge migrant camps that cropped up in Greece and elsewhere throughout a 2015 wave of migration to Europe by principally Syrians fleeing civil struggle.

“At the second we’re observing individuals going the place they’ve connections,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi informed Reuters in a cellphone interview.

Speaking after visiting Moldova’s border with Ukraine, Grandi stated that as Russian forces press on with their assault, refugees with fewer sources will flee. “This will likely be a extra complicated scenario,” he stated.

Grandi tweeted on Sunday: “More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring international locations in 10 days.”

Brussels district authorities have arrange a web-based kind for individuals who wish to host Ukrainians which incorporates questions equivalent to whether or not kids or people who smoke are welcome.

In Germany, refugees are distributed to federal states and from there to particular person districts and cities to organise housing.

A complete of 227,446 Ukrainians have fled to Romania since Feb. 24, together with 31,628 on Saturday, border police information confirmed. Of the entire, 155,680 have already pushed or flown out of Romania.


Poland, which has Europe’s largest Ukrainian group of 1.5 million, has seen at the very least 800,000 refugees arrive in simply over every week.

But as of Friday, solely 20,000 individuals are staying at reception centres and resorts arrange by the federal government to host over 250,000.

“The relaxation are with household and acquaintances,” stated the Polish prime minister’s chief of employees, Michal Dworczyk.

Complete strangers assist, too, in what has change into a large, very loosely coordinated volunteer effort.

Marek Piasecki, who makes gyroplanes, stated certainly one of his sons signed him up on an internet site putting refugees with households the identical day Russia launched its invasion. A day later, he obtained the decision.

“We have been informed on Friday that two ladies and two kids could be arriving,” he informed Reuters from his residence in a suburb of capital Warsaw.

“Four hours after we obtained details about them, they have been in our residence,” he stated.

But he stated he frightened that many individuals have been unprepared to look after full strangers. “In such conditions the state actually is the best choice, as a result of individuals will wish to return to regular life fairly shortly, each the hosts and the company.”

The metropolis of Warsaw has arrange lodging centres in public gyms in addition to resorts and workplace buildings, however practically 4,000 rooms or flats have additionally been provided by residents.

At a coordination centre within the Czech capital Prague, Alyona Kubanskih, a 20-year engineering pupil from the japanese Ukrainian metropolis of Zaporizhzhie, stated she was heading to stick with friends of a pal in Prague.

She is certainly one of about 50,000 Ukrainians to succeed in the Czech Republic, the place over 1 / 4 of one million of Ukrainians already reside, by Friday.

“I really never crossed borders earlier than, so it is all new to me. I had never left Ukraine earlier than,” she stated.

(Additional reporting by Robert Muller and Michael Kahn in Prague, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw, Luize Ilie in Bucharest, Maria Sheahan in Berlin and John Chalmers in Brussels; Writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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