Ukrainian Refugees Arrive in Neighboring Countries

'We are facing a war and horror. What could be worse?'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2022 3:21 AM CST
Updated Feb 24, 2022 11:42 AM CST
Residents Flee Ukraine Capital
Traffic jams are seen as people leave the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

This story has been updated with new developments. Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion are starting to arrive in neighboring countries, many of them traveling on foot. Reuters reports that normally quiet border crossings in Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia are seeing growing numbers of Ukrainians, and those nations are preparing for the possibility of many thousands more. Poland has set up reception centers for refugees and the country is also planning to send a medical train evacuate Ukrainians injured in the fighting. Slovakia and Hungary have sent troops to the border to process refugees.

Countries that don't border Ukraine, including Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, have pledged to send humanitarian aid and accept refugees. Romania said Tuesday that it was prepared to accept up to 500,000. After Russia launched its long-feared invasion of Ukraine early Thursday, some Kyiv residents hunkered down at home or took refuge in subway stations, but many tried to flee the capital, leading to major traffic jams as long lines of cars left the city, the BBC reports.

"We are facing a war and horror. What could be worse?" 64-year-old Liudmila Gireyeva said in Kyiv, per the AP. Putin "will be damned by history, and Ukrainians are damning him." She said she would try to get to the western city of Lviv before trying to join her daughter in Poland. The Guardian reports that by 6pm local time, the main road out of Kyiv was jammed with vehicles and traffic wasn't moving. At Kyiv's main train station, hundreds of passengers with luggage but no tickets were trying to get out of the city, though some services had been canceled.

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Soon after Putin announced military action, Oleksandra Matviichuk, chair of the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, told CNN that she feared the invasion would cause a refugee crisis. "I am in Kyiv. And a lot of people stay in Kyiv and will fight for our country and for our city, and for our dignity," she says. "But people with children, people without parents, people who are scared (will) try to leave (the) city." She said she fears the invaders will target journalists, human rights activists, and anybody "resistant to the occupation." (More Ukraine stories.)

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