2022-03-08
Refugee camp in Przemyśl, Poland.

Belarusian journalist and musician Ihar Palynski wrote an article about his volunteer trip to the Ukrainian-Polish border.

Starting from the very first days of war, volunteer help for Ukrainian refugees was arranged at the Ukrainian-Polish border. Ihar and his friends purchased necessities: food, beverages, hygiene products. The journalist went where he thought people would need his help. First he drove from Białystok in the direction of the Polish village of Medyka, where one of the busiest border crossings, through which Ukrainians enter Poland by car, bus and on foot, is located.

Ihar drove to Przemyśl, the nearest border town, and decided to stay there for the night. There were also many Belarusians in the line of refugees from Ukraine. Those who were once forced to flee political persecution in Belarus, now had to leave Ukraine because of the war Putin had started.

Local Polish services provided free transportation for refugees from Medyka to Przemyśl. They set up a refugee camp in a parking lot near a store in Przemyśl. The work in the camp is very well coordinated. People bring a lot of necessities: clothes, food, beverages, toys for children. Volunteers help unload and sort the items. There is a separate tent with cables to charge phones, a tent with hot drinks. Buses from the border arrive approximately every twenty minutes. People with signs reading “Warsaw”, “Germany”, “Czech Republic”, and “Lithuania” approach them. Volunteer logisticians help refugees find transportation to the right place.

Ihar found passengers who wanted to go to the city of Chełm: a mother, two adult daughters, and a girl who was about six years old. The family came from Kyiv. They talked about their journey to Poland. Ihar asked what their perception of Belarusians was now. “We were watching and sympathizing with you in 2020. It’s not your fault, what can you do to Lukashenko with your bare hands?” They have no hatred towards ordinary Russians either: “Putin is not Russia, and Lukashenko is not Belarus.” They thanked everyone who had taken to the streets to express their solidarity with Ukraine.

Volunteer work is also very well organized in Chełm. An evacuation train from Lviv arrives there every few hours. In contrast to Przemysl, many people in Chełm were met by their relatives or acquaintances. Those who wanted to go to Warsaw were transferred to a direct free train. Among the refugees were mostly women with small children.