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PHOTOS: Refugees flee Ukraine into Poland, some go back

By Ty O'Neil
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.

LVIV, Ukraine – Those fleeing Ukraine by train are likely to pass though the relatively small town of Przemyśl in southern Poland. 

The small train station there is full of refugees, volunteers and police. It is cramped and loud, something not helped by various members of the news media mulling about trying to get interviews. 

Volunteers wear yellow or orange safety vests. On the vests, in permanent marker, are written the languages the individual volunteers speak. They are guiding people through the station, getting tickets for refugees and answering questions as best they can. 

A separate room is cordoned off for women and children. They make up the vast majority of refugees. Polish police monitor the area. Some help carry bags and assist elderly people upstairs. 

Food and other items are available so refugees don’t go hungry, something happening in parts of Ukraine under Russian occupation.

Hundreds of people, mostly women and children, are waiting on a train to go back to Ukraine. 

Some are going back to help their families. Some are returning to Ukraine after fleeing, because they have not found anywhere else to go. 

Trains are running late. 

Mothers desperately try to manage their children – from infants to teenagers. The kids try to make up games to pass the time, but a child’s imagination at a train station can only offer so much. 

My train will not depart until the next day, but with the crowd seeming to continually grow at the station, it is hard to imagine everyone will fit onto one train. 

One thing reported in news coverage is the number of animals being transported by refugees. 

A Ukrainian family flees their country with their pet rabbit. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

I can confirm this. I see a great deal of refugees with pets – cats, dogs, a few birds and a rabbit all made the journey with their owners.

It may also serve as a testament – these refugees have had to make a decision between their belongings and their pets.

Some carry cat crates in lieu of other possessions or suitcases.

The train comes. I ultimately make it to Lviv, Ukraine.

I will probably not be going any farther with how challenging it is to find a place to stay. 

I’m not that afraid of the war, but I’m terrified of not having a room for the night.

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