On Estonia's southern border, police greet Ukrainian kids with cuddly toys

A PPA officer handing toys to children through a car window at Ikla border point.
A PPA officer handing toys to children through a car window at Ikla border point. Source: ERR

Officers from Estonia's Police and Border Guard Board are greeting Ukrainians fleeing war with cuddly toys as more people arrive in the country.

So far more than 1,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Estonia since war broke out a week ago. Not all will stay and many are only passing through on the way to Scandinavian countries.

On Thursday, temporary border controls were reinstated to help manage the flow of people and to provide information to new arrivals as soon as possible. Until now, cars were checked at random.

ETV's evening news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" visited the Ikla border point on the Estonian-Latvian border on Thursday. The show filmed officers speaking to drivers and giving newly arrived children cuddly toys.

Some of the drivers had driven from the Polish border, while others had taken longer routes.

Alla, a woman traveling with her kids, told AK she had traveled from southern Ukraine because her husband has family in eastern Estonia.

"Romania, after that Slovakia, Hungary, Poland," she said, breaking down in tears as she described the journey.

Another visibly distressed driver Darja, a resident of Kyiv for 20 years, told AK how her family fled: "We went to the railway station in Kyiv, on foot, with bags. We left everything and left our house to fate."

Bogdan, a Ukrainian who lives in Finland, was helping transport people from the Polish border. "We take people who can't stay in Poland who want to go to Finland, we pick them up and drive them," he told AK.

Estonian volunteer Margo was also at the border offering assistance. The man contacted the Refugee Center and brought a dox of donations and offered to house people looking for accommodation. He said he couldn't just sit at home and watch.

The temporary border checks will be in place for 10 days. Üllar Kütt, the head of the Pärnu Police Department, said the purpose is to get an idea of who is entering the country.

"And what kind of help they need. Do they have a place to go, do they need psychological help, for example? With random checks, we only see some people. To offer better help better, we will now do it for everyone," he said.

The PPA wrote on social media on Thursday that over 1,000 displaced people have reached Estonia and more than 300 have been children.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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