‘We love everything now’: queuing for food in Poland’s largest bunker

Buses pass by. Every day, tens of thousands of refugees are helped here to cross the Ukrainian-Polish border and then be taken elsewhere in Europe. A man with a megaphone looks for targets – Krakow, Warsaw, Paris, Berlin. The Polish fire brigade and police, together with volunteers, are trying to cope with the chaos.

“We can take you to Belgium,” a volunteer tells a Ukrainian woman with her children. “Belgium? Where?” asks the woman. “Except Germany and the Netherlands”, the volunteer replies.

Hundreds of folding beds

An emergency shelter has been set up in a huge warehouse near the border town of Korczowa, the largest in Poland. The country took in more than a million refugees in just two weeks. Inside, the magnitude of the crisis becomes even more apparent: Hundreds of folding beds, most of them full, huddle together in the room. Children play, some refugees take a nap and warm up under thick blankets. Volunteers report where people want to go at a counter.

There are a number of food stalls outside the hut: meat sandwiches, soup, ramen, meatballs. Volunteers came from all over Europe to feed the refugees. This also applies to Niek Brouwer from Genemuiden, who unloads the vans with his crew with new Dutch snacks. 6,000 burgers, 6,000 meatballs and 1,300 pounds of chips. But it will soon disappear.”

They had brought pea soup, but it wasn’t finished yet:

Refugees have been on the road for days and have to wait hours for the border without food. They notice that here too. There is a long line in front of the booth and the volunteers can’t get past it. Two butchers process the meat, which is fried in large cast iron pans. One of the volunteers fills trays with beef ribeye and chips on the conveyor belt. “Delicious,” says an elderly Ukrainian woman who is just standing in line and laughing. “But now we love everything.”

dramatic stories

This is where Brouwer gets his drama stories from. A few days ago he heard that a one-year-old boy died here after a grueling journey. When a bus full of disabled refugees made noise, the mayor had to come and calm the group.

A woman running away with her daughter is holding a container with trembling hands. He said he was fleeing Crimea, which had previously been annexed by Russia. “When the Russians came to Crimea, we went to our relatives in Lviv. Now we have to escape again.”

The reception in Poland is still heavily dependent on volunteers. You hear this from various organizations and here too, teams like Brouwer’s make the difference. “We are here on our own initiative. The Polish authorities are not very helpful,” he said. “You have to find out for yourself how or what.”

Outside, a woman from Kiev waits with her three children with bags in her hands. They bought fries from the Dutch, only the children forgot a bowl for their mother. “It’s okay, everything confuses them,” he said. “I’m glad we have a place to relax.”

Source: NOS