UATLAS. War Migration Record

projects / 2022

As a result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, more than 9.62 million war refugees—mostly women and children—have crossed the border into Poland. Since the liberation of some of the occupied areas, more than 7 million people have returned to Ukraine. The largest quantity of people decided to legalize their stay in Warsaw (more than 100,000), but, according to estimates, there are in fact twice as many Ukrainian citizens in the Polish capital. Lviv, as the largest transit center in western Ukraine, has accepted hundreds of thousands of internal refugees, providing temporary shelter or serving as a stop on the way to Poland, Western Europe, and beyond. The authors of this publication carried out interviews on the Polish–Ukrainian border (Medyka, Krościenko, Korczowa), in Lviv, and in Warsaw. Here are the stories of those who left their homes, and those who were thinking of returning or moving on. Stories of survivors of war crimes in the XXI century in the heart of Europe.



Maryana (19), Angelina (daughter) from Ternopil

We came to Poland because of the war in Ukraine. Everything is under constant bombardment. It’s too scary to stay there. My family left our hometown of Ternopil on Friday [February 25]. For four days, we waited in our car on the Polish border. People helped us: they gave us food and warm clothing. Friends will pick up my daughter, my mom, and me, and take us to Cracow. That’s where we hope to wait it out. My husband stayed in Ukraine because he is of military age, so it is forbidden for him to go abroad. I hope the situation will improve soon and we can return to Ukraine. Staying in Ukraine at the moment is not an option.

Medyka, Poland 02.03.2022

Ksenia (18) from Kyiv

I was a first-year college student studying English and French. On the day the war began, I had plans: to open my laptop, to study something, to go over my homework… But things turned out differently. Now I am on holiday against my will. My Kyiv apartment is in a multi-storey building. It is dangerous to stay on an upper floor during an attack. So my mother called me and told me to ask my friend if I could move in with her for a while. She had a house. I lived there for five days. We stayed in a bomb shelter. It was hard because it was cold in the shelter. We didn’t sleep—we listened, trying to anticipate what might happen. I slept an hour a day. It was exhausting. That’s why I’m here. It took me two days to reach here. It was difficult. People are very nervous and afraid because of the war. I was traveling by train because it’s dangerous by car: Russian soldiers shoot at civilian cars. Twenty minutes after my journey to Lviv began, there was an explosion in Kyiv at the train station. Honestly, I didn’t even take anything of personal value with me. Only money and jewelry. I left my dog with my friends because it is difficult to travel with him. It is all so sad.

Przemysl, Poland 04.03.2022

Daria (23) from Melitopol

My parents have stayed in Melitopol, Ukraine - the Russian troops have blocked all the roads there. And you can't leave by train because the bridge that connected our city with Zaporizhia has been blown up. 

Medyka, Poland 10.03.2022

Dennis and Anna from Kharkiv

I lived in Kharkiv for four years. I was studying there and was supposed to graduate in June. My specialisation is aerospace engineering. Kharkiv is being bombed continuously. 24/7. If you manage to rest, it is for a maximum of three hours. Than bombing starts again.

Przemyśl, Poland 03.03.2022

Nadiya, Olesya and her son Lionia from Kharkiv

Our male relatives stayed in Kharkiv: a brother and an elder son. My parents stayed too. They are too old. My father has heart problems. Men are volunteering at home. They’re bringing provisions to old people. We are in touch with our relatives. I just called them. Actually, everybody has already left Kharkiv. We are a little bit late. The city is empty. Nothing is working. It is being bombed and shelled. It is scary to walk around the city.

Medyka, Poland 10.03.2022

Vlada (21) from Kyiv

Our grandmother died before the war. Before she died, she said: “There’s going to be a war.” This is a terrible thing to say, but we would not have come here with her. We would have had to stay there. My brother (12 years old), little sister (13 years old), two elder sisters, a dog and a cat have come with me.

Medyka, Poland 10.03.2022

Maryna (30) with daughter Nastia (11) from Kyiv

When my daughter and I heard the explosions at 5 a.m., we didn’t know what to do. That night we slept in the subway station. In the morning we went out and heard loud air-raid sirens. So we stayed in the bomb shelter the whole time. We left Kyiv on the second day of the full-scale war. I worked in Kyiv at the State Drama and Comedy Theater on the left bank of the Dnipro River. We were just about to put on “The Odyssey”. I hope we still will one day.

Przemyśl, Poland 01.03.2022

Vitaliy (14) from Hlobyne (Poltava region)

When we ran away, I took the most important thing with me—my phone. I wanted to take my spinning rod so that I could go fishing in Poland, but I didn’t take it—I figured it wouldn’t get through customs. When I grow up, I want to be a dentist. My father is also teaching me to hunt. And has taught me how to fish. This is what I love the most. I caught my biggest fish—a bighead carp, 18 kilograms—last June. I read books about fishing and look for advice on the Internet. I constantly think about fishing. And now I’m thinking about fishing. What kind of fish can you catch here?

Medyka, Poland 10.03.2022


UATLAS newspaper

©Rafał Milach 2022

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