Thousands of Ukrainians waiting at Polish border to get home

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TVN24 News in English, Reuters
Thousands of Ukrainians queued in long lines on Friday at border crossings with PolandTVN24
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TVN24Thousands of Ukrainians queued in long lines on Friday at border crossings with Poland

More than 3,000 Ukrainian citizens, with no private means of transport, gathered on Friday at the border crossing in Korczowa (Subcarpathian Voivodeship). Restrictions imposed by Ukraine dictate that people can only cross the border in a car. Furthermore, Ukrainian authorities decided to close the borders as of Friday night. Polish border guard informed all control gates were operating.

Thousands of Ukrainians queued in long lines on Friday at the last three border crossings with Poland that remain open to get to their homeland before Ukraine closes its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic. Footage from TVN24 showed crowds of people, many wearing face masks, waiting outside the railway station in the city of Przemyśl to cross the border. "All this doesn't meet the Sanepid (Sanitary Epidemiological Service) or Health Ministry recommendations. The expanded restrictions ban gatherings of more than two people, allow only essential travel, and look what you see behind," the mayor of Przemyśl, Wojciech Bakun, said. Serhyi Tymchuk, a 32-year-old electrician, queued for hours at the border crossing in Korczowa before giving up and returning to his workplace in Leszno, central Poland. "Frankly speaking, I was shocked by what I saw at the border. ... I have not seen such a horror," he said. "If people had followed the distance rule and stood 1.5 metres away from each other, the line would have reached Kraków."

Thousands per day

Around 3,500 people were lined up at the Korczowa crossing in southeastern Poland, 74 km (46 miles) west of the Ukrainian city of Lviv, to cross the border to Ukraine. "We are observing an exodus of Ukrainian citizens in recent days with 3,500 to 5,000 people leaving Poland via the Korczowa crossing a day," said Major Elżbieta Pikor, a regional spokeswoman for the Polish border guard. Between 1 million and 2 million Ukrainians are estimated to live or work in Poland. Many Ukrainian workers, who plug labour gaps in industries like construction and farming, enter Poland on temporary visas for a few months at a time and then return home. Poland last week closed its borders to foreigners in an effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. And with Ukraine to close its borders, too, on Friday night, many Ukrainians are trying to get home out of fear the border barriers will be closed for good. The last charter flights carrying Ukrainians returning from abroad are landing on Friday. But authorities in Kiev have said that all citizens coming back from Poland who manage to get to the border will be allowed to cross it entering into Ukraine also after Friday.

Autor:gf

Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters