Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, on a coach with a Ukrainian license plate that transited through Trieste on Sunday morning | Photo: ANSA/MAURO ZOCCHI
Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, on a coach with a Ukrainian license plate that transited through Trieste on Sunday morning | Photo: ANSA/MAURO ZOCCHI

While the first refugees fleeing Ukraine arrive in Italy by bus and private vehicles as well as by plane from neighboring countries, regional governments have begun receiving them while awaiting national guidelines.

The first refugees fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine have begun to reach Italy in buses, coaches, and private vehicles as well as in planes from neighboring countries.

Regional governments are applying their own reception plans while waiting for national guidelines in agreement with the European authorities.

Hundreds have already come: mostly women, the elderly, and children who are trying to reach relatives in the country.

Exact numbers are for the moment difficult to come by, as many have crossed the border in vehicles or buses. Some are trying to get planes from nearby countries such as Slovakia while others are in contact with relatives to come but have not yet been able to.

Prefects working on receiving those arriving on their own

On Monday, several prefectures including Bologna and Florence called meetings to draw up plans to manage the arrival of the first refugees in the country fleeing the war in Ukraine on their own.

Italy, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said, is ready to do its part. "For me," she said, "solidarity has always been a fixed point in our European agenda and there is even more reason to give the maximum solidarity to a suffering population."

She added that Italy will be among the countries to apply this principle, "including with the redistribution over our territories."

Minister for Equal Opportunities and the Family Elena Bonetti and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio have meanwhile announced that they are working to "activate special corridors for orphan children, so that they can soon reach our country safely."

Most arrivals in center-north, refugees reaching relatives or friends

Though there are not yet any organized flows of refugees into Italy, work is underway to receive them in an informal manner. In the Trentino area in northern Italy, six people from two families arrived on Saturday and more on Sunday.

Venice prefect Vittorio Zappalorto said that hundreds had already arrived in the Veneto region. "Some are reaching the border," he said, "through contacts with friends and relatives who left from the veneto region to bring them here. Others organized small groups with precise destinations -- that is, towards those that they knew could host them -- while others used their own car to get their families to safety."

On Sunday morning in Trieste there was a coach with a Ukrainian license plate that was carrying about 50 people including mostly women and children but also two men, one of whom was the driver.

Waiting for them were various police and military forces who conducted checks. They were all reportedly headed to the homes of friends or acquaintances, mostly in the northern part of the country between Brescia, Vicenza, and Milan. Some headed for Rome.

On the windshield was written: 'Cherkasy-Genoa, via Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Rivne, Ternopil, Lviv'.

On Saturday evening another coach arrived in Piacenza and let out about 40 women and children, including one only nine months old. In this case, as well, several people were waiting for them.

A caregiver living in Bobbio was able to hug her daughter and granddaughter again. This coach had crossed the border between Ukraine and Poland. Every passenger had paid €250 for the 10-hour journey.

In this initial period, many Ukrainian nationals living in Italy act as connections between refugees, families, and institutions.

In Modena, Dr. Elena Bachman -- who took part in the roundtable discussion with the prefect -- told ANSA that "many are contacting me. There are at least 50 people who are supposed to come but there are problems at the border with Slovakia."


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