Poland

When Elephants Fight

Escaping from Ukraine across the Polish border

“When elephants fight,” according to the African proverb, “it is the grass that gets trampled”. More than three million people have now fled the war in Ukraine to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. The majority of them have travelled to nearby Poland, passing through the border towns of Dorohusk, Hrbenne and Medyka.
The latter town has seen the largest flows of refugees. From there, they try to reach other corners of Europe by bus. Those arriving from the Donbass have experienced war on two occasions, those from Kyiv have left behind their husbands to fight in the resistance, while those from the west have left pre-emptively, before it’s too late. Most have stopped off in nearby L’viv before crossing the border into Europe by train, car or on foot. Some carry with them just a trolley bag with a few items of underwear; others have even less so need to rummage through the piles of clothes and basic necessities brought by volunteers from all over Europe.
No one has plans for the future: their worlds have collapsed around them. Some still believe they will return home soon, others are resigned to beginning a new life.

(All the pictures were taken using a makeshift photo set, when the refugees arrived in Medyka, Poland, on March 7, 2022)