This Is Reno photographer and video journalist Ty O’Neil, whose passion lies with documenting conflict zones, traveled to Europe to document the war in Ukraine and its impacts. This Is Reno will continue to follow Ty’s efforts in Ukraine as he is able to send them.
The war in Ukraine continues into its third week pushing more and more civilians to flee their home country. With the recent bombing of a theater in Mariupol little seems to be out of the reach for the cruelty of Russian munitions.
Reports now say three million people have fled the country with many traveling to Poland by whatever means possible, especially trains.
In Warsaw, Poland this is greatly evident with refugees passing through the Warszawa Centralna railway station often on route to much farther destinations. Tents have been erected outside and inside of the railway terminal to provide these Ukrainian refugees with help. Free food and donated goods are sorted and distributed by volunteers.
The number of people is saddening; nearly every corner has a family or individuals set up with a few pieces of luggage around them which may very well be all that remains of their lives. People crying is common and seemed to echo off the hard stone floor of the station.
People looked around at a city they have never been to with lost looks that only someone with no place to return to can truly fathom.
I found only one small space with no temporary residents–a few windows between a McDonalds and a walkway. A Muslim man said prayers while a police officer checked his phone. It was a quiet moment in a sea of people all trying to figure out what will happen next.
The people of Warsaw are being supportive. During my time at the train station, three vans arrived with donations of food, car seats, clothing and other items for refugees. Volunteer translators wore pins showing what languages they spoke.
I met an older man who only spoke English running the door of one of the donation tents. He said he had been helping for less than half an hour but he was already helping show refugees where they could access help and donated items, despite the language barrier.
People worked to get refugees working SIM cards, first aid tents tried to help those in need, but the sad reality seemed that all of this help, as necessary and charitable as it is, is far from what these people desire. They desire to go home.
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.