Ukrainian people are fleeing the country by the millions, fueled by fears of being bombed by Russian missiles, and the looming danger of starvation as stores run out of food.
Seventeen-year-old Elina Biloshapka described to the Daily Caller how she and her mother decided to flee from Sumy, in north-eastern Ukraine, and traveled over 600 miles to neighboring Poland, despite the danger of being shot at by Russian troops.
“It was impossible to leave my city of Sumy, the Russian military shot the cars of everyone who wanted to leave the region. One car was even destroyed by a tank. Just smashed into a pancake,” she told the Daily Caller in an interview. (RELATED: Russian Tank Crushes Civilian Car, Elderly Driver Miraculously Survives: REPORT)
“But on March 8, green corridors were opened,” and Biloshapka and her mother decided to leave the city, despite multiple instances of buses and cars continuing to be shot at, she said. (RELATED: Video Reportedly Shows Russian Tank Blowing Up Car, Killing Two Elderly Ukrainians With No Provocation)
Biloshapka hoped to remain in Sumy with the rest of her family, she said, but decided to leave when stores started running out of food, and the city was constantly losing electricity, water and gas.
“I can’t describe the feeling when you fear for your life every single minute. I had constant panic attacks, and the sedative medicine was running out. It was dangerous to be in the street and inside your own home,” she said.
Biloshapka waited six hours in freezing temperatures alongside hundreds of people hoping to catch a bus out of Sumy, but was unsuccessful. Her mother, Tatiana, then arranged a carpool with an acquaintance who was also fleeing from the city to get to Poltava.
The majority of people waiting for buses shown in the video below never managed to evacuate the city, Biloshapka said.
Over 2 million Ukrainians fled the country after Russia invaded Feb. 24. It is the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, according to the United Nations. Men aged 18-60 are forbidden to leave Ukraine, in anticipation that they will be called upon to fight. President Joe Biden’s administration has said they will “consider” Ukrainian refugees trying to enter the U.S., but they will be subject to a lengthy process.
While driving to Poltava by car, Biloshapka said she was afraid for her life, but constantly thought about three things.
“Firstly, I thanked God. Then, I cried. Thirdly, I thought about how to refuel the car, because all the gas stations were out of gas or were closed,” she said.
When she got to Poltava with her mother, they slept at the train station and caught a 5 a.m. train to Khmelnytskyi, in western Ukraine. They then made their way to Lviv, and finally took an electric train to Przemyśl, a Polish city right on the border with Ukraine.
The conditions in the electric train were horrid, and people were being treated “like cattle,” Biloshapka said. There were no toilets, no way to leave the train, and no electronic system to announce why the train was not moving for hours.
“People began to panic. No one knew where we were and how long we would be like that,” she said. “Then at the last Ukrainian station we were finally released,” and there was a toilet and “volunteers distributing food and tea. I thank them.”
Before the war, Biloshapka had been a very serious student and a volunteer, often traveling to places where she could be of help. She had a clear plan for her future, and was planning to pass the Ukrainian university entrance exams this year, she said.
I was “one of those people who had everything planned. Every minute was accounted for in my calendar,” Biloshapka said. “Now I cry every time. I don’t have plans even for this evening,” she said, sitting in an apartment room in Przemyśl.
“Please, verify your information,” she concluded, in a message to Americans. “Don’t rely on one channel, but several different ones, so you can form your own opinion. If there is an opportunity to help, help. Even a repost with useful information can save a life.”