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Over 150,000 Ukrainians seek refuge in Poland, other countries

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4 mn Ukrainians could flee if the situation deteriorates: UNHCR
Ukrainian refugees walk along vehicles lining-up to cross the border from Ukraine into Moldova, at Mayaky-Udobne crossing border point near Ukraine on Saturday,

POLAND: Dragging suitcases and carrying children, tens of thousands of Ukrainians rushed to the borders Saturday as invading Russian troops pressed on with their march toward Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv.

At least 150,000 people have fled Ukraine into Poland and other neighboring countries in the wake of the Russian invasion, the U.N. refugee agency said Saturday. Some walked many miles through the night while others fled by train, car or bus, forming lines miles long at border crossings. They were greeted by waiting relatives and friends or headed on their own to reception centers organized by neighboring governments.

“The numbers and the situation is changing minute by minute,” said Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “At least 150,000 people have fled, they are refugees outside of Ukraine. … At least 100,000 people — but probably a much larger number — have been displaced inside Ukraine.”

The agency expects up to 4 million Ukrainians could flee if the situation deteriorates further.

In contrast to other conflicts around the globe, Russia’s attack has ignited a huge outpouring of support for the fleeing Ukrainians. This included an unconditional welcome from nations like Poland and Hungary that did not want to accept those fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

Regular people were also opening up their homes to refugees and volunteering at welcome centers. In Poland, a Facebook page was formed where people were offered rides in private cars from the border and other help.

Volunteers even came from elsewhere in Europe to pick up refugees, among them a German couple from Hamburg who held up a sign at the Polish border town of Medyka saying they could take three people home with them.

The largest numbers were arriving in Poland, where 2 million Ukrainians have already settled to work in recent years, driven away by Russia’s first incursion into Ukraine when it annexed Crimea in 2014 and seeking opportunities in the booming economy of the European Union neighbor. Even Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of Europe’s most anti-migrant leaders, travelled to the border town of Beregsurany, where he said Hungary was accepting all citizens and legal residents of Ukraine.“We’re letting everyone in,” Orban said. – JAPAN TODAY

Monday, February 28, 2022 – 01:00

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