Refugees from Ukraine crossing the Ukrainian-Polish border Refugees from Ukraine crossing the Ukrainian-Polish border  (AFP or licensors)

Refugees on the run as Ukraine war intensifies

As the fighting rages for the seventh day, people are massively leaving Ukraine as Russia has intensified its attacks on key Ukrainian cities.

By Stefan J. Bos  

Many tearful refugees have come to the train station in Záhony at the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. "We don't know where we Have to go. And what will happen. What will happen to our small children?" two exhausted, crying women said. "The people of Ukraine want freedom. Russia is behaving like a tyrant; it is a dictatorship. So we had to leave our own country and our children." 

She refers to the mobilization of her son and many others. All men aged 18-60 have been mobilizing against as many as 200.000 Russian troops. Belarus has also joined the fight. 

24-year-old Svetlana Voropai says her dreams have been shattered. She tells Vatican News that she wanted to start a business in Kiyv, having fled the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. But that's all changed. "I am from Ukraine, from Kyiv." She added that she lived in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, mainly run by Russian-backed separatists. "I first saw the first war in the east. Then I lived in Kyiv for one year when I saw the second war. It is very bad. There are many men with guns." 

Her companion, 34-year-old Kevin Imafoighbe from Nigeria, says they will never forget the horrific attacks in and around Ukraine's capital. "I came from Kyiv. This is not good what is happening in Ukraine. They kill people all the time. Even we run away because of bomb explosions. They shoot at people. But thanks God, we are safe now," he stressed.          

Church volunteers are among those helping him and many other refugees, including the significant ethnic Hungarian minority living across the border. 

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U.S. furious

Hungary says more than 100,000 refugees have arrived since Thursday. That number is expected to rise as fighting escalates across the country.

In response, the United States said it would ban Russian airlines from its airspace - following the lead of the European Union and Canada. 

And major companies such as Apple, Google, Ford, and Exxon Mobil have taken steps against Russia over the invasion. But all these actions have done little to halt the offensive. 

As a result, the United Nations says more than 800,000 people have fled Ukraine, with many more expected to escape Europe's most significant conflict since World War Two. 


02 March 2022, 20:57