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At Least 100,000 Arrive In Poland From Ukraine As Refugee Flood Intensifies

By RFE/RL February 26, 2022

Ukrainians continued to seek the safety of neighboring countries amid the unprovoked attack by Russian forces, with the UN estimating that 120,000 have so far fled into Poland and elsewhere.

Long lines were seen at border crossings on February 26 as refugees arrived by trains, automobiles, buses, and by foot fleeing Europe's largest ground war since the end of World War II.

Officials said at least 100,000 people had arrived in Poland, with Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Moldova also reporting an influx of refugees from embattled Ukraine.

Many of those fleeing were greeted by friends, relatives, or government officials as they arrived at the borders on February 26.

Germany, which does not border Ukraine, also reported the first arrivals from that country, although officials said the numbers are low so far.

Officials said small numbers of people from Ukraine at crossed the border near the Polish city of Gorlitz and at reception centers in the city of Eisenhuettenstadt.

That so many of those fleeing chose Poland is not surprising, given that some 2 million Ukrainians have settled to work in the EU country in recent years. Many fled Russia's first invasion of Ukraine when it seized the Crimea and supported separatists in eastern Ukraine starting in 2014.

At Poland's Medyka border crossing, a line of vehicles waiting to enter the country ran some 15 kilometers into Ukraine.

"We will help everyone," the Polish Border Agency said. "We will not leave anyone without help."

Those arriving were mostly women, children, and the elderly. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has barred men aged 18-60 from leaving the country.

The UN High Commission For Refugees said it expects up to 4 million Ukrainians could flee if the situation deteriorates further.

"We now see over 120,000 people that have gone to all of the neighboring countries," High Commissioner Kelly Clements told CNN.

"The reception that they are receiving from local communities, from local authorities, is tremendous. But it's a dynamic situation. We are really quite devastated, obviously, with what's to come."

On February 25, Moldova said it had received almost 16,000 Ukrainian refugees since the start of the Russian invasion.

Interior Minister Ana Revenco said 15,800 Ukrainian citizens had crossed the border into Moldova in the previous 24 hours.

Many wanted to continue to the EU, but at least 100 applied for asylum in Moldova.

The influx of Ukrainian refugees came as Moldova's parliament approved a state of emergency for 60 days due to the Russian attack on Ukraine.

RFE/RL correspondents report that Moldovan authorities had established triage and assistance centers at two border crosses with Ukraine -- Ocnita and Palanca. According to Moldova's Interior Ministry, the centers will also be prepared to offer accommodation to a number of refugees for 72 hours.

Dozens of vehicles continued to line up on the border between Ukraine and Moldova, according to Moldovan media websites. Moldova has a 1,222 kilometers-long border with Ukraine.

Moldova's western neighbor, EU and NATO member Romania, which has a 650-kilometer border with Ukraine, has also seen an increased number of Ukrainian arrivals at the Sighetu Marmatiei border crossing but, according to local officials there, Ukrainian citizens crossing into Romania are seeking to continue traveling toward Poland and the Czech Republic.

Romania's Interior Ministry on February 25 said some 10,000 Ukrainians have crossed into the country since the start of the invasion, but only 11 of them applied for refugee status in the country.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu on February 25 held a telephone conversation with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis to discuss about coordinating their actions to "ensure the necessary assistance for the Ukrainian refugees," the presidency reported.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Romanian services, AP, Reuters, unimedia.md and dpa

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-refugees- poland-conflict-przemysl/31725071.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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