Ukraine Asylum Seekers: 500,000+ Since Russia’s War

The U.N. estimates that over 500,000 people have already fled Russia’s developing war.

Long queues of automobiles and buses were backed up at border checks in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Moldova. Others walked across borders, taking their belongings away from the fighting and into the EU’s safety.

Thousands of refugees gathered in Beregsurany, a Hungarian border town, to wait for transportation to transit centers that would take them further into Hungary and beyond.

Personal Accounts

Maria Pavlushko, 24, an IT project leader from Zhytomyr, 60 miles west of Kyiv, said she was on a ski trip in the Carpathian mountains when she heard about the Russian invasion last week.

Pavlushko intends to go to Poland to visit her mother. Her grandma is still in Zhytomyr, she says; her dad has stayed behind to fight the Russian invaders.

Many of the evacuees in Beregsurany, as in other border regions in Eastern Europe, were studying and working in Ukraine when the fighting started.

Masroor Ahmed, a 22-year-old Indian health student from Ternopil, traveled to the Hungarian frontier with 18 other Indian academics.

He said they planned to reach Budapest, where the Indian government scheduled an evacuation flight.

Hungary opened its doors to all Ukrainian migrants, including third-country nationals with residency papers. The government has established a “humanitarian passageway” to take non-Ukrainian individuals to Debrecen and Budapest airports.

Hungary’s new attitude toward Ukrainians contrasts sharply with its former hostility toward Middle Eastern and African migrants.

In 2015, when one million refugees, mostly Syrians escaping violence, arrived in Europe, Hungary built a wall.

Unity All Across

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, over 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine into neighboring nations.

UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said the official count was 281,000 in Poland, 84,500 in Hungary, 36,400 in Moldova, 32,500 in Romania, and 30,000 in Slovakia. She said the remainder were in unknown nations.

Trains continued to deliver refugees into the Polish border town of Przemysl on Monday. In their winter coats, many carried little suitcases as they waited to exit the station.

Young Ukrainian Natalia Pivniuk said the crowded and rushed train to Poland was “very unpleasant and dangerous both physically and mentally,” so she didn’t want to take it.

The tension causes people to become egoistic and forget about everything. Ottoman Adel Abid, an Iraqi student, fled Lviv, citing widespread panic.

Ylva Johansson, the EU’s home affairs commissioner, visited a border crossing in Siret, Romania, on Monday. Johansson praised the “heartfelt” cooperation among volunteers and officials and said the EU is unified “at a level we have never seen.”

To discuss the circumstances and challenges, Johansson told the reporters at the border:

In a tough moment, she said, “we see conflict in Europe, assault, and invasion by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin against a sovereign, neighboring country.”

Johansson, who will later meet with Iohannis and Ciuca, said Europe is “demonstrating we are built on ideals other than Putin.”