Ukrainian refugees refuse to go to Polish region bordering Russia

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country have refused to go to Poland's north-eastern Warmia and Mazury region owing to its proximity to Russia, local authorities have reported.

All passengers originally headed for Olsztyn, the region's capital, had left the train before it reached its destination on Sunday.

"We waited for the group with many volunteers... We had our welcome packages with food and hygienic products ready but the refugees had made a different decision and didn't come," said Krzysztof Guzek, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Ukrainian women travelling on a bus to the northern town of Gizycko, some 30 km from Poland's border with Russia's Kaliningrad enclave, forced the driver to turn around and go to Warsaw instead.

Wojciech Iwaszkiewicz, Gizycko's mayor, told PAP on Monday that refugees do not want to be so close to Russia.

"We explained to the women that there was a comfortable hotel in Gizycko waiting for them where they will have a chance to rest whereas in Warsaw they will only be offered mattresses in a gym," PAP was told by a person who tried to convince the women to go to Warmia and Mazury. "They all said that they preferred the mattresses and the driver had to turn around because they clearly wanted it."

Additionally, most of the refugees come from big Ukrainian cities and are afraid that the region is only a provincial part of Poland with few job opportunities, Olga Sycz, a volunteer, told PAP.

Poland has accepted more than one million Ukrainian refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.