"Just show your passport, no tickets are needed" Lviv is full of Ukrainian refugees

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"Just show your passport, no tickets are needed" Lviv is full of Ukrainian refugees
"Just show your passport, no tickets are needed" Lviv is full of Ukrainian refugees
8 March, 13:41SocietyPhoto: Фото автора.
The main city of western Ukraine receives and sends thousands of refugees to Europe every day.

According to Western media reports, the number of Ukrainians who fled from the Russian special operation to neighboring European countries has already exceeded 1 million 700 thousand people, and according to experts, this figure will increase to at least 4 million. The famous Russian poet Viktor Sanchuk, who has been living in the United States in recent years, went to Ukraine as a volunteer. Here is how he describes what is happening these days in Lviv, the largest city in the west of this country, as yet untouched by hostilities:

“The Fifth Platform” is a brisk name for some semi-glamorous drinking and party establishment in the evening cities of not very presentable times. Well, there are "8 tons"; “Apartment 44”… “The Fourth Rome” at last…

In today's Lviv, this is already a well-established dromon. Moreover, it is, of course, far from the most terrible place in all of Ukraine today, but definitely the most - during the day (and night) - crowded and human-mobile. And possibly all over Europe.

Trains depart from the 5th platform of the Lvovsky railway station towards the Polish border. To Przemysl and Chelm.

The whole station and the vast forecourt area is a huge camp with large tents, bales, periodically - bonfires and braziers (to get warm at least - the temperature outside is still -2 -6 C). And crowds, crowds of people. Human whirlpools.

Trains - long-distance and electric trains with people fleeing the war from different regions of Ukraine - arrive on their way. 25 overcrowded wagons have just arrived from Zaporozhye...

The arrivals are taken out of the trains to the square and distributed, transported to refugee shelters. You can also try to find a place for yourself. But this is practically unrealistic.

The city is full. The media claim that about 50 thousand have already arrived here (as of February 24, the city's population was about 800 thousand). The shelters are overcrowded. They sleep on the floor, often side by side… Mostly they are mothers with children. Lots of older people. There are also men, but these, as a rule, take families to the border and return (men over 18 and under 60 are not allowed out of the country ... - the reason is obvious).

Those who decide to immediately move to Poland must re-enter the station, get on this very 5th platform and immerse themselves in the train. Border control (departure from Ukraine to the EU is visa-free, but you still need to present your passport, make the appropriate marks in it ...) takes place right here, on the platform.

In order to just get into the station building, you need to stand in a queue for many hours.

All travel, fast food, coffee and so on. household services for refugees are free, everything is free in Poland - just show your Ukrainian passport, and you don’t need any tickets for anything (Poles are generally great this time in terms of solidarity and support for the unfortunate!). But here: the whole task is to fit into this train ... from the Fifth platform.

There is no schedule. Due to the complete violation of all schedules, no one knows anything in advance, even the station administration, because the Poles, for their part, must first tell her how many and when trains they can accept, and they themselves - according to circumstances ...

On average, 10 trains leave per day. It happens - up to 15 ... But on one day - there were only 2 ... Then a real horror (if already mentioned is not enough). People were waiting for landing on the open platform for 20 hours ...

But, finally, the lucky ones who have reached the coveted carriage go to peaceful Europe. About 200 are seated in carriages designed for 50 people ... they stand in the aisles, sit on the shelves, children on their hands and on their knees ... From Lviv to the border, 90 km. Trains run 5… 6… sometimes 10 hours!

A lot of “road adventures” await these people (I saw the continuation of their ordeals and the beginning of new ones already from Warsaw), they are waiting for the life of a foreign land. But at least - not under the shelling of rockets and bombs (about what you can hear in these crowds about what is happening now in their houses, and often - in the place of their former houses - I will not be here now. All this is known ( visible) on TV and computer screens, "from the pages" of all the world's media).

Ulyana tells me about everything that happens on the Fifth platform.

Ulyana is an organizer and now, it seems, she is the main person of the volunteers.

On Sunday, that is, on the third day of the war, when refugees from the east were already flowing with might and main, she simply - from the street - came to the head of the station, said that something must be immediately decided to organize and streamline this human flow and offered her own services. (It must be said that such a high degree of self-organization has been going on in Ukraine since the time of the Maidan, and over the past eight years it has not at all lost its head in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but has only intensified). Volunteers immediately gathered around, and now a lot of them - immediately noticeable in their yellow or red vests - control everything that happens on the platform, feed people, calm children, provide medical assistance...

There is a doctor and psychologists here... But of course, as always in such situations, everything is not enough! The psychologist stands in his place for 2 hours... There were special ones, - says Ulyana, - for extreme situations, those - 4 hours! but it's still very hard...

Now volunteers themselves need psychologists. Many do not withstand more than 3-4 days... they burn out from what is happening...

Ulyana is the mother of three children. She does not bring the youngest, fourteen, to the station with her, but her two older daughters, Nadia (21) and Katerina (17), volunteer with her. Husband, an architect, patrols the city, he is in territorial defense. Also, for some reason, it was nice to see among the beautiful volunteers the girl Oksana from the Belarusian Human Rights Center "Spring", - apparently, she is already a refugee herself - first to Ukraine from her homeland - from Lukashenka, now ...

How bizarrely the horror of this world always coexists with something funny!

A couple of hours before our conversation with Ulyana, - as she said - there were American journalists from ABC News at the station. Filmed what is happening, the correspondent (Mat Gutman) spoke to a woman and her young daughter. - Where? - From the Luhansk region... And how old is the girl? - 16. It's her birthday today ... The journalist says: - Is that how you thought to meet him? - No, not at all, - Dana answers ... The correspondent began to cry. And the girl turned to her: - And who are these people who ask and film? ... She was answered: American television ... She turns to her mother: - mother, mother! The whole world will see me! .. Here is the “gift” for the DR.

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