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People bundled up in coats and blankets line up at the Poland border
Ukraine

Photos from the Polish border

More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine in the past two weeks. Photographer Tom Nicholson captured photos and stories of refugees crossing the border in Medyka, Poland.

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Galaina Mama Gala, 87, crosses the border from Ukraine to Poland at the Medyka crossing. Born in Russia, she lived in Cherkasy, Ukraine, for 35 years where she was a medical worker. Galaina's friend drove her to the border overnight, where they waited in sub-zero temperatures at a checkpoint for at least four hours. Galaina has limited mobility, and uses a wheelchair and crutches. Now, she will live with her grandson Vlad, his wife and mom, near Munich, Germany.

"It was her dream to live with us, and now, it's war, and her dream came true," says Vlad, pictured below with Galaina. "It's a very bad situation, of course. First, she didn't want to come to Germany, but now she lives with me."

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Svetlana, 77, with her granddaughter, Anna, and daughter, Julia, cross the border from Ukraine to Poland. Svetlana has to walk with a cane due to her age. Svetlana's family drove two days from Naples, Italy, to pick her up.

"We looked at the possibilities of how to take her, and the only one was to go by car from the south of Italy to here," Anna says. "We were driving for two days. We will stay in a hotel and then go two days by car back to Napoli."


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Nikita, who uses a wheelchair, with his sisters, Nastja and Katya, mother, Oksana, and grandfather, Iwan, after crossing the Polish border. The family stayed in a bomb shelter when there was an emergency evacuation. They took a train to Lviv, and two days later arrived at the Medyka border crossing with Poland.

"Because my brother is not so mobile, it takes a long time," Nastja explains. "We go here without any bags. Because it was an emergency evacuation, we go here without food or water on the train. It was difficult in some way but now it's OK because there are a lot of volunteers who helped us, so we don't have to worry about food and water."

The family plans to travel to Warsaw to stay for a while. They will either return to Ukraine after the war, or go to Germany.


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Larysa, 82, arrives at Medyka after crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland. She worked as a food and trade professor for 60 years at a university. Larysa traveled alone on a bus from Kharkiv and waited more than three hours to get through the border. She says the distances are too big and the queues are humongous.

"It would be nicer to cut the distances to help people with disabilities," Larysa says. "It will be really great and amazing if there could be more wheelchairs by the passport control, because even if there's not enough people to use wheelchairs, women with young children could make use of them."

Volunteers at the Medyka border are trying to organize transportation for Larysa to get to Germany, where her daughter will meet her.

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Alla, who uses a wheelchair, with her family after crossing the border into Poland.


More scenes from the Medyka crossing at the Ukraine-Poland border on March 9, 2022

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