Thousands of Ukrainians flee country after Russian invasion

Thousands of Ukrainians are already on the move and leaving the country, with tens of thousands more preparing to flee, after the Russian attack ordered by Vladimir Putin.

Videos and photos on social media show lines of cars moving out of cities and heading west, as well as an increase of people on foot near the southern and western borders.

The United Nations refugee agency said on Thursday that the situation was quickly deteriorating after Russia’s invasion. It appealed to neighbouring countries to keep their borders open to people seeking a safe haven.

“We have already seen reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees.

Reuters reported dozens of people, some carrying luggage and accompanied by children, crossing into the Polish city of Medyka, and lines of cars stretching for miles were reported on the approach to Ukraine’s border with Moldova.

The UNHCR said it had stepped up its operations and was working with Ukrainian authorities to provide greater humanitarian assistance. It was also working with governments in neighbouring countries “calling on them to keep borders open to those seeking safety and protection”, it said.

For weeks, central European countries on Ukraine’s western border have been making preparations for a potential influx of millions of refugees.

Authorities in the countries next to Ukraine have already identified border crossings through which people can leave the country by land, such as Vyšné Nemecké in Slovakia, Záhony in Hungary, Siret in Romania, and Palanca in Moldova.

Maia Sandu, the president of Moldova, said on Thursday there was an increase in traffic flow on the border.

Poland is preparing a train, with medical equipment, to transport wounded civilians from the Ukrainian border to Polish hospitals, said the country’s health minister. “We are preparing a sanitary train with full rescue service and medical equipment to…

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