Refugee numbers are falling, but Ukraine’s neighbors are scrambling to provide shelter

People flee Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Rzeszów
People rest at a temporary shelter for people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Rzeszow, Poland March 12, 2022. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

March 12, 2022

By Marek Strzelecki and Fedja Grulovic

PRZEMYSL, Poland/ISACCEA, Romania (Reuters) – Ukraine’s neighbors reported a drop in refugee numbers on Saturday as governments and volunteers struggled to find shelter for the nearly 2.6 million women and children who have arrived since the Russian invasion fled for two weeks.

The arrivals still built on an overwhelming influx of volunteers, NGOs and authorities in the border communities of Eastern Europe, as well as in the big cities where most refugees are moving to.

According to the Polish Border Guard, 76,200 people arrived on Friday – down 12% from the previous day. Slovakian police reported a similar drop in the number to 9,581 people, and arrivals in Romania fell 22% to 16,348, police said.

Elena Pugachova, 52, a psychologist from the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, fought back tears after stepping off a ferry that took her across the Danube to Romania.

“I can’t speak without tears, I’m sorry, but I’m really sorry for my country and no one could have expected that… They’re bombing Kharkiv, they’re bombing Mykolayiv, it’s only 120 km from Odessa and it’s painful inside “, she said.

Mayor Wojciech Bakun of Przemysl, a Polish town of 60,000 people near the Medyka border crossing, said the number of arrivals had dropped to around 18,000 in the past day from 23,000 the previous day and peaked at over 50,000.

He said he needed support to prepare shelters for 2,000 to 3,000 people.

“I have the buildings, but they need work, it would require between 10 and 20 million zlotys ($2.3-4.6 million). I can’t fund this from the municipal budget as we have other needs, it could be funding from the European Union or from the government,” he said.

Veronika Zhushman, 32, who was traveling with her 6-year-old daughter, mother and younger sister from Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, had slept the night away in a sports gymnasium at a high school in the city.

She was awakened early Saturday morning by a cell phone alert from another refugee about a bomb attack.

“I haven’t slept well since the invasion began…after the alarm went off, I was worried again,” she said.

Fighting raged near Kyiv on Saturday, and Ukrainian officials said heavy shelling and threats of Russian airstrikes jeopardized attempts to evacuate desperate civilians from surrounded towns.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR reported that as of Friday nearly 2.6 million people have fled Ukraine, 1.6 million of them en route to Poland.

Refugees have sought cities with established Ukrainian communities and better job opportunities.

In the capital Warsaw, a city of 1.8 million people before the Russian attack, refugees now make up more than 10% of the population, the city’s mayor said on Friday.


Hungary has taken in over 230,000 refugees, with 10,530 arrivals as of Friday. Romania reported 380,866, including 16,348 on Friday.

Slovakia reported 185,660 arrivals, most of which continued their journey further west.

The western route often leads to the Czech Republic, where officials on Friday estimated the number of refugees at 200,000.

On Saturday, the country asked EU partners to provide modular housing for 50,000 refugees. Refugees would also be accommodated in gymnasiums, halls and possibly tent camps, Interior Minister Vit Rakusan told CTK news agency.

Czech police have warned refugees about scammers who may offer visa processing assistance and other assistance in exchange for money, or who may steal or misuse personal information to launder money. They also urged caution about suspicious job offers that could lead to forced prostitution or human trafficking.

Russia is calling its actions in Ukraine a special military operation to disarm its neighbor and expel its “neo-Nazi” leaders. Kyiv and its western allies say this is an unfounded pretext to invade a country of 44 million people.

($1 = 4.3794 zlotys)

(Additional reporting by Mari Saito in Przemysl, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Anna Koper and Kacper Pempel in Warsaw, Luiza Ilie in Bucharest, Robert Muller in Prague, Krisztina Than in Budapest, letters by Jan Lopatka, editing by Ros Russell) Refugee numbers are falling, but Ukraine’s neighbors are scrambling to provide shelter

Bobby Allyn

USTimeToday is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button