Polish universities rally to support Ukrainian refugees.

More than 2.5 million Ukrainians have left their country in the two weeks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February. Most of them, nearly 1.5 million, crossed into Poland, which has a 330 mile long common border with Ukraine and is a member of the European Union.

Among the people fleeing the war is a large group of students from the non-European countries. The war caught them totally unprepared; some fled in just the clothes in which they stood, with no belongings.

A group of students from Ethiopia who studied in Kyiv managed to escape to the city of Lviv by train, but it took them four days to walk on foot the last 100 km to reach the Polish border. They did not sleep, did not eat and were cold, as some escaped in bathrobes. They were finally picked up in such a state by volunteers on the Polish side.

The war in Ukraine has radically changed life in the neighbouring countries as well. As Olga Tokarczuk, Polish winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, put it in her lecture at the University of Warsaw: “The attack on free Ukraine is an attack on Europe.”

Almost as soon as the Russian assault begun, Poland opened its doors wide for those fleeing Ukraine. They enter Poland through eight border points by train, and by car but many just walk through on foot. Most are women, children and the elderly since Ukrainian men of recruitment age (18-60) are not allowed to leave the country.

Given the huge dynamics of events and the dramatically growing number of people in need of immediate humanitarian aid, local authorities and NGOs have stepped in. Local authorities, with the help of an army of volunteers, opened dozens of reception points where immediate aid can be offered.

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