Poland has received 100,000 Ukrainian refugees so far - official

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

About 100,000 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in Poland so far, a deputy interior minister said on Saturday morning.

"From the start of war in Ukraine until Saturday, 100,000 people crossed the border from Ukraine to Poland," Pawel Szefernaker told a press briefing at the border crossing in Medyka in the south-eastern Podkarpackie province.

He explained that in the first days after the Russian attack on Ukraine, families were waiting at the Polish border for many people coming from that country. These refugees were taken by their families to their places of stay, Szefernaker said.

"Only a few percent of people who crossed the border did not intend to remain in Poland. They were directed to one of the nine reception points along... the border," he said.

On Saturday morning, information points for incoming Ukrainians were launched all over Poland. They are located at railway stations in provincial capitals. Warsaw has three such points, at the Wschodnia and Zachodnia railway stations, as well as at the Chopin airport.

Szefernaker said that refugees can get medical help, receive food and have some rest at these points. From the reception points, they are transported by buses and minibuses of the State Fire Service to the places of temporary stay, prepared to welcome them in every province of Poland, he added.

Asked by reporters how many people Poland is able to receive, Szefernaker said that all EU countries declared their willingness to accept refugees.

"But it is limited by the will of these people. Some refugees come to Poland and treat our country as a transit country and keep moving on, and some have no plans, want to wait and maybe return to Ukraine," he said.

Szefernaker did not want to say what number of refugees he expects. "We have significant reserves prepared... but, so far, 90 percent of people who cross the border have a specific goal of visiting Poland."

He said he believes that because pedestrian traffic is allowed in passenger car lanes, the queue of people on the Ukrainian side should systematically decrease in the following hours.

He noted that only two hours after the launch of this solution, the border was crossed by 5,000 people.