Medyka, Ukraine-Poland border – Warm rays of the morning sun remove the last signs of frost from the cars parked in endless lines along the road.
Medyka – the main border crossing between Poland and Ukraine – is slowly waking up, and so are dozens of men and women who spent the night in parking lots, waiting for their loved ones to arrive.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, more than 115,000 refugees have crossed into Poland, the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Saturday. Anyone from Ukraine is allowed entry, even those who do not hold valid passports, Polish officials said.
The United Nations Refugee Agency says more than 120,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the country since Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday.
But for most Ukrainian refugees, it took days to escape the war.
Helena, 49, from Drohobych in western Ukraine, is sipping tea and eating a sandwich she received from volunteers. She has family in Poznan, Poland, and she knows the arduous journey will soon be over.
But it took her 24 hours to cross the border and arrive to safety. “It was hell,” she told Al Jazeera before she burst into tears.
For Denis, a 30-year-old from Chernivtsi, Ukraine, who works at construction sites in Poland, it was a difficult night as well. He arrived at Medyka on Thursday to meet his wife and children coming from Ukraine. But after a whole night of waiting, they were nowhere in sight.
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Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska/Al Jazeera