Poland sees increased border traffic from Ukraine, including refugees

About 29,000 people crossed Poland's border with Ukraine over the past 24 hours, with thousands of them declaring themselves as war refugees, the Polish head of the national security department has said.

"About half of the number are people who have declared... that they are fleeing the war so they have to be processed as war refugees," Stanislaw Zaryn told Radio Plus on Friday.

Zaryn said Poland is bracing itself for a large wave of refugees, but declined to give an estimated number of them.

"We'll be monitoring the situation and drawing conclusions," Zaryn said. "At the moment it's difficult to predict the scale."

Pawel Szafernaker, a deputy interior minister, told Polish Radio Three on Friday that "queues are forming" at the border.

Poland also faces the problem that Ukraine has announced mass mobilisation, so men aged 18-60 are not allowed to leave the country, according to the deputy minister.

This includes bus drivers, but Poland is doing everything to shorten the crossing time, Szafernaker said.

"Most people who are arriving have specific destinations, so they know whether they are going to another EU country or staying in Poland," Szafernaker said. "They are people with concrete addresses they're going to."

"They are going to their families and friends in Poland as well as families and friends in the European Union," he said.

At a press conference later on Friday afternoon, Szafernaker quoted more precise numbers of people crossing the Polish border from Ukraine.

"Yesterday, 31,000 people crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border from Ukraine, today, by 3:00 p.m., there were more than 25,000," he said.

Speaking on public television on Friday evening, Szafernaker said that the number of people who crossed the Polish border from Ukraine had risen to 35,000 by 7:00 p.m.

Poland's Government Security Centre has said it has been sending text messages to Ukrainians who have logged into Polish mobile networks that all refugees will be allowed to come to Poland.

The text message reads: "If you are fleeing the armed conflict in Ukraine, you will be allowed to enter Poland. For more information, please visit http://ua.gov.pl.+"

Russia invaded Ukraine from land, air and sea on Thursday morning. Guided missiles and aircraft have been hitting targets across Ukraine and Russian troops have been moving closer to Kyiv, in an apparent intention to take over the capital.

Ukraine said there were over 100 casualties on the Ukrainian side on the first day of the war.