Ukrainian refugees arrive in neighbouring countries

Ukrainian refugees walk along vehicles lining-up to cross the border from Ukraine into Moldova, at Mayaky-Udobne crossing border point near Mayaky-Udobne, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. The U.N. refugee agency says nearly 120,000 people have so far fled Ukraine into neighboring countries in the wake of the Russian invasion. The number was going up fast as Ukrainians grabbed their belongings and rushed to escape from a deadly Russian onslaught. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Ukrainian refugees started arriving in neighbouring countries in Central Europe on Thursday.

As Ukrainians flee from the conflict, countries in the region are setting up reception points and dispatching troops to provide assistance, Reuters reports.

Eastern EU countries such as Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, all former members of the Soviet Union-led Warsaw Pact and now NATO members, border Ukraine.

As Russia invaded Ukraine, Poland called for the “fiercest possible sanctions” against Moscow, while the Czech Republic has ordered Russia’s consulates in the country to close and has stopped issuing visas to Russians. The Czech Republic President, Miloš Zeman, described his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as a “madman.”

EU neighbours offer help

Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, condemned Russia’s aggression and declared that Budapest is prepared to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine and take in refugees from the country.

Poland presented a list of 1,230 hospitals to admit people injured in the conflict and has readied a medical train to move injured Ukrainians to said hospitals.

The Polish Ministry of Health stressed it would do “everything to ensure that every person who enters the territory of Poland has access to healthcare, including hospitalisation.”

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger called on citizens to show compassion and understanding for Ukrainian refugees, while giving assurances that Slovakia is prepared to help.

The Slovakian Defence Ministry announced plans to deploy 1,500 troops to the border with Ukraine to help refugees, as did its Hungarian counterpart.

Romania also stated its readiness to provide humanitarian aid, and said it plans to help evacuate Romanians from Ukraine, while stressing that it too is willing to take in refugees. In a speech on Thursday, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, called for “consistent consolidation” of NATO in Eastern Europe and reiterated that the country is prepared to help refugees.

The Czech Republic offered rail cars to help with the evacuation of refugees, saying it is prepared to take in people who are fleeing conflict. While it does not border Ukraine, the Czech Republic is home to some 260,000 Ukrainians.

Germany offered humanitarian aid to countries that neighbour Ukraine. German media has been reporting that some estimates suggest up to one million Ukrainians could flee to the EU.