Ukrainian refugees queuing for days at Estonian-Russian border

Long queues have formed on the Russian side of Estonia's southern border crossing point in recent days as more and more Ukrainians try and enter the European Union. The Social Insurance Board has been called in to help arrivals.

Between 200 and 300 Ukrainians, fleeing Russia's war, arrive at the crossing in Luhamaa every day, Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

Queues are forming because Russian border guards are questioning people for a long time before they allow them to leave the country.

Head of the southern border crossing Peter Maran said it takes days to cross into Estonia at the moment.

"People are very exhausted, very worn out. According to the latest information, they wait in line on the Russian side for three or four days under the open sky, covered only by some kind of plastic or raincoats. But very hungry and exhausted people come here, their fingers and toes and frozen," he said.

Raul Kudre, Setomaa village leader, said residents who live close by have been trying to help.

"In the last few days, catering has been organized in Petseri with the monastery's help, and it was heard that on Sunday volunteers also brought food on the Russian side of the border," he said.

The Social Insurance Board has also been called in to assist.

"Since Friday evening Social Insurance Board employees at the border have been offering hot tea, food, shelter, directed people to rest and offered mental health support," Urve Luhamet, team leader of the agency's southern region department said.

Aleksandr, who fled Ukraine and crossed the Estonian border, told AK about his experience.

"We spent four days under the open sky. We were given wooden pallets and we slept on them. Those who had children were allowed in the gas station. In the gas station, people just lay around," he said.

The majority of Ukrainians have plans to travel onward after entering Estonia, Maran said. "They mainly head to Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia."


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Editor: Helen Wright

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