Evacuees from separatist-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine continued to enter Russia through a border checkpoint on Sunday, entering the southern region of Rostov by car, bus and on foot, a DailyExpertNews reporter at the scene noted.
At the Avila-Uspenka border post in the Rostov region, residents leaving Donbas were greeted by representatives of Russia’s emergency services ministry and members of a pro-Putin youth group in a makeshift camp.
Traffic out of Donetsk was moderate with families riding in cars with Donetsk People’s Republic registration plates and occasionally groups of evacuees trickled in in small groups of two to four people, usually families with young children.
An evacuee from the city of Donetsk told DailyExpertNews her family was evacuated at short notice after hearing shellfire early Sunday morning.
“Everything happened spontaneously, we heard sounds of shelling around 1 a.m., I grabbed my baby and ran,” Irina, 35, told DailyExpertNews near the checkpoint border crossing, after driving to the checkpoint and then crossed on foot with her 5-year-old son, Danil. Irina refused to give her last name to DailyExpertNews for security reasons.
Local Russian emergency services set up makeshift cafeterias, toilets and showers, along with two rows of inflatable makeshift tents in which some evacuees slept on bunk beds while waiting to be transferred to other accommodation.
Meanwhile, rows of empty buses were waiting to take the evacuees and sanatoriums in the nearby port city of Taganrog.
“We left voluntarily, nobody is forcing us to leave and some people choose to stay,” said Viktor Ivanovich, 63, who gave only his first name and patronymic. He crossed the border with his wife in their car.
When asked if they’ve been given instructions on when to come back, the couple answered no.
Local officials in the Rostov region have declared a state of emergency after separatist leaders ordered the evacuation of civilians from the region on Friday.