© Reuters. A woman uses a mobile phone while sitting in a bus after crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the border checkpoint in Medyka, Poland, March 17, 2022 TPX IMAGE OF PEOPLE DAY
By Anna Koper and Krisztina Than
PRZEMYSL, Poland/BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Thousands more refugees crossed into Eastern Europe on Thursday, many hoping that peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv could end the war soon, despite though many are expected to flee in the coming days.
As the conflict in Ukraine enters its fourth week, some 3.2 million people have fled abroad, United Nations data showed on Thursday in what has become the fastest-growing refugee crisis. in Europe since World War II.
While numbers to frontline countries – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova – have slowed in recent days, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he expected a “big wave” more” next week.
“The war has not subsided, but is spreading; and as it spreads, there is a danger that next week will see the arrival of more people in Hungary, leaving us with a great challenge. “, he said in a video posted on his Facebook (NASDAQ page:) late Wednesday.
“They are not only fleeing from areas threatened by war, but also from war zones.”
One of them is Alla Klochko from Mirnohrod in Donetsk, an area in eastern Ukraine that the separatists have declared an independent republic but are disputed by Kyiv and at the center of fierce fighting. between Ukraine and Russia.
The 31-year-old hopes she can stay near Warsaw, find a job and enroll her 8-year-old daughter, Alisa, who loves playing the piano, to a school in Poland.
“I hope that, if our delegation reaches an agreement and there will be peace in the end, I hope that Ukraine will not lose part of our territory, our Donetsk, because the region Donetsk belongs to Ukraine,” she said.
“We are part of Ukraine, have always been and hope that this will continue to be the case,” she said from Przemysl train station, a transit hub near the Ukrainian border. “We speak Russian, but we are Ukrainians.”
The European Union is offering collective protection to Ukrainians and many have moved further west. Collective protection of refugees is a means of eliminating the need for individual asylum applications.
In Germany, almost 190,000 people have registered with the authorities so far. In Spain, the figure is 4,500, and in Norway, which is not part of the EU but is also granting collective protection, 2,000.
“The volunteers say they don’t know if we have a train to Berlin today,” said Nastia Chemerys from Kyiv, at the Warsaw station, where technical problems caused delays on the network. Polish train.
“Five, six days ago I left Kyiv … It was very dangerous. When I left Kyiv, after two days, near my house, a house was evicted.”
Amid the relentless fighting, both Ukraine and Russia spoke of progress in their bilateral negotiations.
Ukrainian officials say they think Russia is running out of troops to keep fighting and may soon accept defeat in toppling the Ukrainian government. Moscow says it is close to agreeing on a formula to keep Ukraine neutral, one of its long-standing demands.
“I hope that this will end soon. Everyone says it has to… I don’t know,” said Ekaterina Herman, 27, who arrived in Poland late Wednesday with her two-year-old child.
“I am planning to return to Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, refugees across the region are trying to establish some sort of normalcy.
At a supermarket turned shelter in Rzeszow, southeastern Poland, volunteers and children played tug of war, tattooed and painted, with the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack playing on speakers.
In Romania, at the Siret border crossing with Ukraine, women with babies, toddlers and older children continued to arrive, while Romanian firefighters and volunteers picked them up and loaded their luggage onto the bus carrying them. Go.
The United Nations is basing a relief plan on 4 million refugees but says the number is likely to grow. The European Union is expected to have five million arrivals.
Since the start of the invasion on February 24, 282,000 people have fled to Hungary, 270,000 to the Czech Republic and 491,000 to Romania, with the largest number of refugees – 1.97 million – in Poland, according to government and UN data.