Anadolu Agency assesses refugee situation in Poland

Anadolu Agency assesses refugee situation in Poland

Travelling to border area, Anadolu Agency team witnesses fluctuating numbers in Europe's worst humanitarian crisis since World War II

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine on Feb. 24, nearly 5 million Ukrainians have taken refuge in neighboring countries.

Ukraine’s western neighbor Poland has so far received nearly 2.5 million of those who fled the country due to Europe’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

Anadolu Agency visited Poland to assess and document the situation of Ukrainian refugees for almost two weeks.

Despite the high number of incoming refugees that flee with no more than a few suitcases after leaving all they have in Ukraine, Poland's humanitarian aid and support for Ukrainian refugees is tidy and well organized with over 20 reception centers across the country.

It is easy to spot Ukrainian flags on streets, government and local government buildings in city centers. Due to historical ties between the two countries, the support from Polish people to Ukrainians is immense.

- Support for Ukrainians

The support for Ukrainian refugees starts even before they cross the border. Polish authorities are informed about a new arrival by previously arrived family and friends and they easily arrive at locations where they are directed.

Once they arrive, they go to one of the many information points, most of which also operate as humanitarian hubs where they have a chance to rest. They are quickly registered and informed of their options via many volunteering interpreters.

Those who would like to go to other European cities are provided with free sim cards and tickets.

The ones who prefer to stay in Poland are directed to the most relevant cities for them. When they reach the final destination, those who would like to work are provided with a Polish social security number.

- Warsaw

Warsaw, the capital city, saw a great number of Ukrainians since the start of the war and most of the time it acted as a gateway to other European cities as most of the EU countries opened their borders for them.

The city airport, main train and coach stations gave access to millions of Ukrainians to reach Berlin, Prague, Madrid, and many more major European cities.

The city’s Ptak Expo Centre was transformed into a huge refugee hub, where the Ukrainians can arrive, get registered, and rest a few days before deciding what to do next.

Smaller centers such as the one adjacent to Warsaw East Station, which is run in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Polish Centre for International Aid, and the city of Warsaw, also serve as a first arrival point for refugees.

- Lublin, Chelm, Dorohusk

Lublin is a city that sits on the main highway from Ukraine and it is a midpoint to reach Warsaw.

It is easy to see the support for refugees in this city as well. Lublin is also an arrival point for many European volunteers who drive with humanitarian aid to deliver charities there and offer free rides for refugees to almost anywhere in Poland and Europe.

Traveling further toward the Ukraine border with a group of such volunteers, Anadolu Agency team witnessed constant but reduced numbers of arrivals in Chelm and Dorohusk.

In both towns, information points were set up to welcome refugees, where they can take a short rest and receive information about the rest of their journey.

- Rzeszow, Przemysl

Accessible with a highway and a railway from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the border town of Przemysl has been one of the busiest arrival points in Poland.

The numbers in both towns fluctuate according to local authorities and volunteers due to newly opened humanitarian corridors in Ukraine.

A huge reception center also hosts arriving refugees for a few days in Przemysl.

Special trains to main European centers still make the train station extremely busy.

Rzeszow is also busier with new arrivals in the last few days with many trains running to Warsaw from there.

- Krakow

Poland’s second-biggest city Krakow has hosted millions of refugees. Many Ukrainians who prefer to remain in Poland are in the city.

The main train station in the city is extremely busy with Ukrainians who wait for the next train to their final destinations.

The humanitarian aid at the station center is also organized and adequate.

According to the UN, the civilian death toll in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war reached 2,072, but is estimated to be much higher, while the number of people that have fled the country neared 5 million.

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