A Polish border guard assists refugees from Ukraine as they arrive to Poland on the Korczowa border crossing, Poland, Saturday. (Czarek Sokolowski, Related Press)
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WARSAW, Poland — Tens of hundreds 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 battle since World Warfare II.
Some walked many miles by way of the night time whereas others fled by prepare, automobile or bus, forming strains miles lengthy at border crossings. They have been greeted by ready relations 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 usually didn’t wish to settle for these fleeing battle and poverty within the Center East and Africa in previous years.
Almost 120,000 folks have up to now fled Ukraine into Poland and different neighboring international locations 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 to take the capital of Kyiv.
One household from Chernivtsi in western Ukraine waited 20 hours earlier than having 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 wish to go dwelling,” she mentioned.
The biggest numbers have 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 looking for alternatives within the booming financial system of the European Union neighbor.
Poland’s authorities mentioned Saturday that greater than 100,000 Ukrainians had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border prior to now 48 hours alone. On the Medyka border crossing, the road of autos 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 unfavorable COVID-19 check.
“We’ll assist everybody,” the Polish Border Company mentioned. “We won’t go away anybody with out assist.”
On Saturday, Poland despatched a hospital prepare to select up these wounded within the battle in Mostyska, in western Ukraine, and convey them to the Polish capital of Warsaw for remedy. The hospital prepare left the border city of Przemysl and has 5 carriages to move the wounded and 4 others stocked with humanitarian assist for Ukraine’s Lviv district.
These arriving have been largely ladies, kids and the aged after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday banned males of navy age from 18 to 60 from leaving the nation. Some Ukrainian males have been reportedly heading again into Ukraine from Poland to take up arms in opposition to 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 have 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 move additional on to different international locations in Europe.
The company expects as much as 4 million Ukrainians might flee if the scenario deteriorates additional.
We’ll assist everybody. We won’t go away anybody with out assist.
–Polish Border Company
The border submit in Siret was crowded with Ukrainians arriving on Saturday. A couple of miles in, humanitarian teams had arrange tents and supplied food 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 have been going subsequent.
“We do not have a clue. We’re ready for our buddies, after which we’ll suppose,” she mentioned.
Contributing: Jamey Keaten; Stephen McGrath