Nearly a million people have left Ukraine, foreshadowing a massive humanitarian crisis

If fighting continues, as many as 4 millionroughly 10 percent of the Ukrainian population — could be displaced in the coming weeks, Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said Monday.

Photos and videos from the past week show packed train stations and traffic jams snaking through border towns. Many refugees gather together to combat the cold and sleep in small groups in order to sort through donations and use the gyms or churches as cots. Many of them are women and children; Ukrainian authorities have forced men ages 18 to 60 to stay in the country to fight the invasion. More than half the refugees fled to Poland. People are now attempting to flee into Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Moldova. In the next few months, a large number of refugees will continue to other European countries .

Traffic data from Google showed severe backups at nearly every border crossing Sunday at 10: 25 p.m. local time, particularly at crossings into Poland. Google temporarily removed live traffic data from Ukraine due to concerns for safety. Ukrainians trying to leave by train and bus also struggled with crowds and service halts.

Officials warn that the flow of refugees is likely to escalate into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. The tidal waves and suffering that this war will bring are inconceivable,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Feb 23.

Ukrainians rush to cross to

neighboring countries

Available border crossings to Europe

Populated areas

Warsaw

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Lviv

Dnieper

Kharkiv

SLOVAKIA

MOLDOVA

UKRAINE

Budapest

HUNGARY

Odessa

ROMANIA

CRIMEA

Bucharest

As of Feb. 27.

Does not include railroad crossings.

Black Sea

100 MI

Sources: Ukrainian government, border police authorities.

Ukrainians rush to cross to

neighboring countries

Available border crossings to Europe

Populated areas

Warsaw

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Lviv

Dnieper

Kharkiv

SLOVAKIA

UKRAINE

MOLDOVA

Budapest

HUNGARY

Odessa

ROMANIA

CRIMEA

Bucharest

Black Sea

As of Feb. 27.

Doesn’t include railroad crossings.

100 MI

Sources: Ukrainian government, border police authorities.

Ukrainians rush to cross to neighboring countries

Available border crossings to Europe

Populated areas

Warsaw

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Lviv

Kharkiv

Dnieper

SLOVAKIA

UKRAINE

Budapest

MOLDOVA

HUNGARY

Odessa

ROMANIA

CRIMEA

Bucharest

Black Sea

As of Feb. 27.

Doesn’t include railroad crossings.

100 MI

Sources: Ukrainian government, border police authorities.

Ukrainians rush to cross to neighboring countries

Available border crossings to Europe

Populated areas

Warsaw

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Lviv

Kharkiv

Dnieper

SLOVAKIA

Bratislava

UKRAINE

MOLDOVA

Budapest

HUNGARY

Odessa

ROMANIA

CRIMEA

Bucharest

Black Sea

As of Feb. 27.

Does not include railroad crossings.

100 MI

Sources: Ukrainian government, border police authorities.

On Sunday, Ylva Johansson, the European Union’s home affairs commissioner, said member nations need to be prepared to support “millions” of Ukrainians in the coming months.

Ukrainians can stay, visa-free, for 90 days in E.U. nations, and under new rules expected to be adopted Thursday, Ukrainian nationals will be eligible for “temporary protection” within the 27-nation bloc for up to three years, depending partly on conditions in Ukraine.

More than 500,000 people had crossed into Poland as of Wednesday. The country could receive as many as 1.5 million refugees.

A spokesperson for UNHCR posted a video on Monday showing crowds gathered outside a warehouse in Poland that was being used as a reception center for “a few thousand” refugees.

On Sunday, lines of cars stretched for 20 miles from the border crossing into Medyka, Poland, one of the busiest crossings between the two countries.

At the busiest border post between Ukraine and Poland, the line of cars stretches for over 20 miles with families fleeing war. They are safe and sound at home. (Jon Gerberg, Alice Li/The Washington Post)

Slovakia declared a state of emergency Saturday morning because of the mass influx of refugees caused by the war. The government approved an infrastructure bill of 13 million euros ($14.5 million) to strengthen the Ukrainian border infrastructure and complete asylum facilities.

Slovakian officials said Saturday that the country will provide monthly stipends to Slovakians who support and house displaced Ukrainians.

Nearly 120,000 Ukrainians have crossed into nearby Hungary, and more than 79,000 into Moldova since Feb. 24, according to UNHCR.

Satellite images provided by Maxar showed a four-mile-long line at the border crossing in Siret, Romania, on Feb. 25. The U.N. refugee agency estimates that the NATO country of 19 million could take in up to 250,000 refugees.

Kyiv

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Bucharest

Lines of cars

NORTH

3 MILES

2 MILES

1 MILE

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Bucharest

NORTH

Lines of cars

3 MILES

2 MILES

1 MILE

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Bucharest

Lines of cars

NORTH

3 MILES

2 MILES

1 MILE

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Bucharest

Lines of cars

NORTH

3 MILES

2 MILES

1 MILE

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Source: Satellite image (c)2022 Maxar Technologies

NORTH

1,000 FEET

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Source: Satellite image (c)2022 Maxar Technologies

NORTH

1,000 FEET

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Source: Satellite image (c)2022 Maxar Technologies

NORTH

1,000 FEET

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Cars & trucks

Source: Satellite image (c)2022 Maxar Technologies

NORTH

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

1,000 FEET

Cars & trucks

The Romanian border police say more than 100,000 people have crossed into the country since Feb. 24, but only 45,000 have remained there. As the refugee flow from Ukraine increases, many will remain in Eastern Europe while others will move west to Germany. On Wednesday, a train carrying Ukrainian-Polish refugees arrived at Berlin. They were greeted by Germans who offered water and displayed signs to offer places for them to stay.

Anna Svitlyk arrived in Berlin on Saturday with five of her children. She left Ukraine last weekend and said that she would be staying in Berlin’s train station. After that, she will travel to Sweden where she can wait for the war to end.

“Every European country gave us free food, free shelter. We owe them so much and are so grateful,” she told The Washington Post. “But we want to go home.”

As conflict intensified, Ukraine’s border guards were ordered last week to stop all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country, disappointing many who got to border checkpoints after hours of travel and wait.

“If I could go, too, I would,” Vitali, 31, told The Post after his wife and child crossed into Poland, with tears in his eyes. “It’s brutal.”

Annabelle Timsit, Leslie Shapiro, Monica Ulmanu, Shelly Tan and Youjin Shin contributed to this report.

correction

A previous version of this article misstated the amount allocated by Slovakia’s infrastructure bill to strengthen border infrastructure. The bill authorized 13 million euros for border infrastructure, not 13 billion euros. The article was corrected.

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