After the Russian invasion, thousands of Ukrainians fled their homeland and sought refuge in neighboring countries.
Since the beginning of the occupation, 115,000 people have crossed the Polish border, many of whom have traveled for more than two days. At the border point, there are long queues up to 15 km.
Most of the people at the border point are women and children as men between the ages of 18-60 are not allowed to leave the country. BBC correspondents have spoken to Ukrainians trying to leave the country at the border.
24 hours line
Lucy Williamson, Palanka, Moldova
As seen from the Moldovan border, Ukraine is a country of women. Mothers, grandmothers, their children and grandchildren are dragging their suitcases unknowingly.
After waiting in line at the Ukrainian side of the border for more than 24 hours, Anna Palanka reached the crossing point. Her little yellow car is full of bags, and her six-year-old grandson sings to himself in the back seat.
The mother and stepdaughter were driving about 50 kilometers from the southern city of Odessa. That city is now one of the targets of the Russian war.
But as soon as he started talking, Anna’s calm smile broke. Tears welled up in her eyes as she described how she had to leave her husband to defend their country:
“I hope the West will help us get out of this terrible situation. Because we are now in our own position against the Russian invasion.”
Moldovan town and village volunteers around Anna. These people are waiting to help the Ukrainians who come here on foot.
But most of the people who came here had the same idea of fleeing Ukraine. At the moment they have no idea what is going on for their country or for themselves.
Men are not allowed
Mark Lowen, Prajemisal, Paultenya
The midnight train left Kyiv and went through Lviv with new refugees from Europe. These people arrived at the 19th-century train station at Prozmisel, now a reception center.
“It took 52 hours to get here,” said Katarina Leontiva, who had to flee the city of Kharkov with her young daughter. They left for Poland with their Ukrainian passports and their small bags. And now they’re safe …
Katrina gets emotional when asked how she feels when she comes here. “I still don’t know. Crying is new,” she says.
We see Irene and her two young children in the waiting room. Irene’s husband stays in Lviv to defend his homeland.
“Only women and children are allowed to go,” he said.
“Men want to live, they want to fight and they want to give blood. They are heroes.”
I ask her how she feels about leaving her husband.
“I’m scared,” she replies, and her voice begins to tremble:
“We hope everything goes well. We pray for them.”
Leave the kids
Nick Thorpe, Beregsurani, Hungary
Victoria hails from Irshava in western Ukraine.
With a nervous laugh, he said, “I came to Hungary with my two daughters. I am leaving them here, waiting at the border with my relatives and returning to my wife.”
Is he afraid to go back?
“Honestly, I’m not afraid. I’m just worried about my daughters, that’s all. I see the situation is not good for Ukraine, but I can’t leave my country. We have to be patriotic.”
“My husband is ready to defend Ukraine for the future, for our children in need. I don’t want that, but we must save our country.
“She is going to join the army. There is a letter about it.”
Mother and father left
Rob Cameron, Visne Nemeke, SlovakIs
In the small village of Velke Slamens, the last group of refugees rushed to the side of the road, their eyes anxiously looking for a familiar face, then a scream, a hug and a kiss.
For a moment, joy touched the heart. Almost anxious, indifferent, indifferent. But then the scene broke into a sharp, piercing scream. A woman’s face was disfigured with pain before she was hurried away.
Another young woman said, “Uzhorod,” when I asked her, “Where are you from?” The city of 100,000 inhabitants was across the border. It was part of Czechoslovakia before World War II. The plains beneath the Carpathian Mountains have a bond of kinship and solidarity centuries ago.
That was pretty much all he had to tell me. He held the hand of his younger brother, who was a shy boy. They are left by their parents. It is not clear who they were waiting for.
Tania, on the other hand, left Kyiv 20 years ago and now lives in Stuttgart with her favorite person. But here he was, waiting on the side of the road to rescue an old friend when their homeland was in turmoil.
Farmer Jan Toth was at the scene.
“Putin or Zelensky, they don’t let men go,” he said.