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Hundreds of thousands rushed to depart Ukraine. Now the queue to return house stretches for miles


MEDYKA, POLAND — Medyka, Poland is a quiet and idyllic farming village close to the southeastern border with Ukraine.

But in latest months, it has grow to be the busiest border crossing for Ukrainian refugees for the reason that struggle with Russia started in late February.

In February and March, refugees waited for hours or days there to cross into Poland. Now, the circulate has reversed. The lengthy traces are on the Polish facet of the border full of folks ready to cross into Ukraine.

Anna Kobernyk and her pals have been ready in a van for six hours, parked in a line of autos nearly 10 miles lengthy.

“We were waiting all night here and all of us are really tired,” she says.

Kobernyk is a graduate scholar from Kyiv getting a masters in International Relations. Over the previous few months, this struggle has given her a crash course.

“It is my practical lesson. It’s sad, of course. That actually the 21st Century is not so fantastic. That U.N. and many, many others, all of them can do nothing,” Kobernyk says.

Weeks after the struggle started, the Medyka border crossing was full of refugees leaving Ukraine. People wept, afraid that they have been departing their nation without end, not realizing if they might actually have a nation to return to.

Now, though there’s nonetheless demise and combating in Ukraine’s south and east, the scene right here on the Polish border has misplaced the panic and concern it as soon as had.

Some Ukrainians are going backwards and forwards typically.

And the tears nowadays are sometimes from glad reunions. Parents like Oksana Chikh hug their children at this border crossing for the primary time in months.

“I haven’t seen them since the beginning of the war,” Chikh says. ” We drove our children to the border on Feb 26.”

Chikh and her husband are each cops within the metropolis of Ivano-Frankivsk. They weren’t allowed to depart Ukraine when the struggle began, so she despatched her three boys to security in Poland with their grandmother.

“I was scared, it was painful. But most importantly, uncertain,” she says. “When you don’t know when you’ll return, you don’t know what to expect. This uncertainty is the most frightening.”

Her sons are 6, 9, and 11. The household stands in an extended line of pedestrians ready to enter Ukraine. The 9-year-old says he cannot wait to get again house to Ukraine and play with the cat he hasn’t seen since February. His mom’s arms hold touching the boys’ shoulders as she talks.

When there is a struggle on one facet of the border, separations and reunions can have a lot greater stakes. Because though the household’s house in Ukraine is peaceable, areas within the nation’s south and east are nonetheless beneath heavy Russian assault.

Still, on today on the Medyka border crossing, extra folks like Yuri Vasylevych are going again to Ukraine moderately than coming into Poland.

Vasylevych stands alone within the line, holding a saxophone case. Today is his 71st birthday.

While the general public ready to cross put on hoodies or T-shirts, he is neatly wearing a plaid blazer over a black polo shirt. As a senior citizen, restrictions on males of navy age leaving Ukraine do not apply to him. He’s simply getting back from a four-day convention of European saxophonists, the place he was a particular honored Ukrainian visitor.

“The thing is, music comes from the heart. It informs one’s entire attitude,” he says. “It’s well being, it is life. We are all born with music and we’re going by life with music.

The giddiness in Vasylevych’s voice is not only from folks desirous to reunite with relations.

Violetta Naboka and her 14-year-old daughter have spent the final two months dwelling with Polish strangers who, she says, handled them like household.

“These people really love Ukraine,” she says. “I’m very happy because I really want to [return] to my house, to my husband, to my mother, to my dog Brooklyn.”

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This crossing now not looks like a fork in life the place there is not any turning again.

On the automobile path of the border, double-decker buses idle bumper to bumper, ready for the border guard to sign when it is their flip to cross the border.

The indicators on their dashboards say they’ve begun their journeys in Poland, Germany, Italy, and locations even farther west.

Some of the vacation spot cities are Kyiv, Lviv, and Ivano-Frankivsk — all in Ukraine.

“It’s a very strange feeling because when we left we were very scared, we were escaping,” says bus passenger Anastasia Boryko.

Boryko first evacuated from Ukraine to Poland in early March. Now, she’s crossed a couple of instances.

In the Ukrainian metropolis of Rivne, her life working as a advertising supervisor feels nearly regular. She remembers what it feels wish to be house.

“At the morning when the sun starts rising and we are at Lutsk and I saw the people, I saw streets that I know,” she says. “That was very good. That was like, yay, I’m home.”

It’s not simply passenger autos and buses ready to cross the border into Ukraine. The line of business vans can be far longer than it was, as a result of this is likely one of the few methods something can get into Ukraine nowadays.

“Sometimes we’re here 48 hours,” says a trucker named Roman Makar. “Because all of the transport into Ukraine is now made by land, not air.”

The airport in Kyiv is closed. So is the seaport in Mariupol.

Makar has been a truck driver since 2000, and he is by no means seen the crossing this packed. Long days and nights in his truck have inspired him to remodel his truck into a comfortable area the place he can spend his time.

“My talisman,” he says, holding up two stuffed animals: a fuzzy turtle and teddy bear that sit on the dashboard subsequent to an “I love Ukraine” flag.

“This is my home,” he says. And he does not simply imply the cab of the truck. Ukraine can be his house.

This skinny, weathered man with silver eyes sits within the cab together with his footwear off, knee tucked up into his chest. Even for somebody like him who goes backwards and forwards on a regular basis, driving into Ukraine carries an emotional weight. He places his hand over his coronary heart.

“My wife and kids still live there,” he says.

Any border generally is a place of sudden transformation. Yet the whole lot right here creeps slowly, inching in direction of the road that divides a rustic at peace from one which’s beneath assault.

Victoria Olanych hasn’t set foot in Ukraine since earlier than the struggle. And the thought of returning overwhelms her.

“I go now to my mother, visit my mother because she’s very ill,” Olanych says. “She’s laying in hospital, and I don’t have hope.”

Olanych moved to Brussels in 1989. Going again house may be very painful, she says.

To move the time on this lengthy journey, she’s been chatting with others on her bus.

“I ask them, they say, ‘I don’t find myself in Germany, I don’t find myself in Belgium.’ Mostly, people want to go back,” she says. “They love Ukraine.”

Without warning, her bus’ engine activates, the doorways start to shut, Olanych runs towards it, waving and in addition crying, climbing again onto the bus because it slowly rolls nearer to her homeland.



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