Ukraine-Russia war: This is what a 50km-long refugee crisis looks like

Refugees have been waiting outdoors in icy conditions for hours, clips filmed for Independent TV show

Independent TV exclusive: This is what a 50km-long refugee crisis looks like

Thousands of cars packed with Ukrainian refugees desperately trying to flee the Russian invasion have formed a huge queue near Ukraine’s border with Poland.

Just a fraction of the 50km-long tailback has been captured in extraordinary footage filmed for Independent TV.

Bel Trew, a foreign correspondent for The Independent, filmed the chaotic scenes in western Ukraine, close to the border with Poland – a country which tens of thousands of Ukrainians have fled to over the past few days.

Refugees in cars and on foot trying to reach the Polish border

In the clip, people are waiting inside and outside their vehicles that are stuffed with belongings. Hardly any traffic can be seen going the other direction that leads further into Ukraine.

People are also seen walking in the direction of the Polish border, pulling wheeled suitcases as well as carrying backpacks and plastic bags.

Many soup kitchens have dotted the main road that connects the Ukrainian city Lviv to the Polish border, and some of them are littered with discarded belongings and suitcases, Ms Trew said.

Another clip she filmed shows scores of people waiting on a train station platform for a way out of Ukraine.

Families waiting at a train station for a way out of Ukraine

Snow falls heavily as families huddle together to shield from the freezing cold, while children are heard chattering and crying in the background.

Ms Trew said she met families who had “walked for more than 10 hours in sub-zero temperatures” to leave Ukraine, after Russia’s president Vladimir Putin launched a bloody invasion on Thursday.

She added: “Many slept overnight in the ice. Families carrying a single backpack and their pet appeared through the darkness.

“I have never seen anything like it.”

Freezing conditions are set to continue over the coming week as the western Ukraine region, near to the border of Poland, is forecast to feel temperatures drop to as low as -5C in the evenings.

Snow falls as families wait together at a train station with their belongings

The Independent launched an appeal this weekend - Refugees Welcome - for the British government to grant more Ukrainians refuge in the UK.

On Sunday, foreign secretary Liz Truss said ministers are urgently examining how to help refugees fleeing the war, after getting intense criticism over current UK visa rules.

Ministers have already announced some changes to visa rules to help Ukrainians who are in the UK and unable to return home, and people in Ukraine with British relatives.

But so far there has been no announcement of a resettlement scheme for Ukrainians, or other measures in response to an expected exodus of refugees from the country.

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