Ukraine crisis: Blinken hears harrowing tales from refugees

Published on Mar 06, 2022 04:29 AM IST

The US secretary of state visited a welcome centre set up by Polish authorities in what once was a shopping mall in Korczowa, close to the border with Ukraine, where roughly 3,000 refugees are taking shelter after the Russian invasion of their homeland.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken meets with a refugee at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing in Korczowa, Poland. (Reuters)
US secretary of state Antony Blinken meets with a refugee at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing in Korczowa, Poland. (Reuters)
Agencies | , Korczowa, Poland

US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Saturday visited a welcome centre set up by Polish authorities in what once was a shopping mall in Korczowa, close to the border with Ukraine, where roughly 3,000 refugees are taking shelter after the Russian invasion of their homeland.

America’s top diplomat heard harrowing tales from mothers and their children who described long and perilous journeys - and the shock of the sudden disruption and the fear for their lives - after fleeing the devastation of the war.

“Near our home we heard bombs,” said Venera Ahmadi, 12, who said she came with her brother and sister, six dogs and seven cats from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, more than 600km away. “We walked to the border, I don’t know how many hours. We crossed the border on foot.”

Her 16-year-old sister, Jasmine, said: “I was scared I would die.”

Natalia Kadygrob, 48, reached the centre with her four adopted children from Kropyvnytskyi, almost 800km by bus on their way to her brother’s home in Germany. Her husband stayed behind.

“There they bombed planes at the airport,” she said. “Of course we were afraid.”

Tatyana, 58, who wouldn’t give her last name, came with her daughter, Anna, 37, and her 6- and 1-year-old daughters, Katya and Kira, from Kharkiv, about 1,000km away. “They were shooting on the street,” Tatyana said. Anna said her home had been destroyed by a shell or a rocket.

Meanwhile, the International Organisation for Migration said the number of people who have left Ukraine since fighting began has now reached 1.45 million.

The UN migration agency, citing figures from government ministries in countries where they have arrived, said on Saturday that 787,300 of them went to Poland. Some 228,700 fled to Moldova, 144,700 to Hungary, 132,600 to Romania and 100,500 to Slovakia.

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