Ukrainians head for Polish border where thousands stand ready to help
Ukrainians move across the border to Poland where they hope they will be safe, as ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson reports
We are on the move in Poland and heading to the border town of Medyka. It lies just one kilometre from Ukraine.
A small village of under 3,000 people, where this refugee crisis is beginning to unfold.
Mothers, daughters, fathers and sons are crossing into this village non-stop and Ukrainian families, who live in Poland, of which there are around two million, are waiting here for their loved ones to arrive.
The situation is desperate.
Lucy Watson reports live from Przemysl train station in Poland, where desperate Ukrainians are fleeing from the Russian advance
To get to Poland, some have walked 20 hours on foot in wintry conditions because they can’t get there any other way. They couldn’t get fuel in Ukraine to drive, no taxis would take them. The average winter temperatures here are below freezing.
Many slept rough overnight in train stations in Rzeszow and Przemysi. Hot food is being handed out there to those hungry, and with little.
Those who have managed to get here in the last 24 hours come to Poland with hryvnia, the Ukrainian currency. Nobody wants it. They drained ATMs at home before leaving. Getting here was one challenge, now they have no money.
The UN says up to 5 million Ukrainians could flee and be displaced. Humanitarian aid is critical. The Red Cross is already in Medyka.
Russia may be attacking Ukraine but by doing so is breathing down the necks of Poland, Romania, Estonia, the Eastern European countries that border it. For this reason, we are seeing great solidarity from these nations.
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People in Poland are opening up their homes, offering beds to any Ukrainians who make it over.
We spoke to Zofia Jaworowska who has set up a Facebook group in Warsaw offering shelter to refugees. Just 24 hours ago, they had 60 members. Now, they have 4,000, offering 600-700 beds.
On a grander, official scale the US has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Poland to co-ordinate and further ramp up its contribution to supporting the crisis.
UNICEF is strengthening its capacity to help Ukrainian refugees in Moldova, Romania and Poland, as well as Hungary and Slovenia. It says that there are grave shortages of supplies including fuel, cash and medical supplies. And also, that it is getting a growing number of requests for help to support traumatised children.
Vladimir Putin’s actions have cast the country of Ukraine, its people and its young into the unknown.
There are no winners in war, but countless lives are torn apart, and this is only the beginning.