The unprecedented flow of Ukrainians fleeing into the European Union has abated slightly over the past few days, border data on showed, but the major cities where refugees are arriving said they are struggling to cope.
On Friday, 76,000 people left Ukraine for Poland, the overwhelming destination for Ukrainians fleeing the war, immigration data from the Polish border guard said. That is a drop from the 118,000 who entered Poland on Wednesday, or the 87,000 who did so on Thursday. It still, however, amounts to one person a second arriving in Poland in the third week of the war.
The decline mirrors a broader if still tepid easing in what has become Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. At the peak on Monday, 207,000 people fled Ukraine for neighboring countries in a single day, according to the United Nations refugee agency. On Friday, 104,00 people exited Ukraine for those states, the U.N. agency said.
Major cities are reporting high numbers of refugees arriving by bus, train, or car, staying with relatives, friends, strangers—or in train stations packed with families asleep on blankets. Some 300,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Warsaw, the main city destination for people fleeing the country, the city’s mayor, Rafał Trzaskowski, said Friday. On Tuesday, Mr. Trzaskowski estimated the number at 200,000. “Situation is getting more and more difficult every day,” he tweeted Friday.
Krakow, whose prewar population stood at about 800,000, has said it is struggling to manage even the most basic administrative tasks, like issuing personal identification numbers for the 100,000 people who have turned up into the city. The city has already spent 74% of its annual $4.3 million budget for crisis management, a spokeswoman for city hall, Monika Chylaszek, told national daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita in an interview published Friday.
“We are not able to accept, absorb more people, as a city,” she said. “It comes down to jobs, places in schools and daycares, administrative services.”
There are virtually no refugee camps in the country, aside from a handful of convention centers and stadiums that the Polish government terms “reception centers,” where a few thousand of the 1.5 million people who have entered Poland sleep. Instead, Poland is counting on relatives, friends and volunteers to house the newcomers. That arrangement is becoming increasingly hard to sustain, however, as the rate of people arriving outpaces the number of beds available, Polish officials say.