SAN YSIDRO, Calif. – The number of Ukrainian refugees at the U.S.-Mexico border continues to grow.
Mexican immigration officials estimate that roughly 2,500 – 3,000 Ukrainians are waiting in Tijuana to cross into the United States, seeking asylum after fleeing a war-torn country.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened the San Ysidro West Pedestrian Bridge, to process all the Ukrainian refugees.
Volunteers from all over the country have been welcoming the Ukrainian refugees at the Port of Entry. The volunteers have been offering them, food, water, and transportation to reunite with their families.
“I knew what to expect but seeing it in person was a little heartbreaking,” said Simona Yaroslavsky, a 16-year-old volunteer from Seattle.
Yaroslavsky flew down from Seattle with her best friend and mother, who is Ukrainian.
“Originally we were talking about going to Europe and Ukraine to help people that were there this summer, but there ended up being a crisis here and we just wanted to show up for people in need and see what we could do,” said Matthew Smith, a volunteer from Seattle.
The Guruva family fled Mariupol on March 18 and have been on the road for three weeks now. Before getting to Tijuana, Mexico, they had to travel through Europe and many of the Baltic states.
“I would only get half of a loaf of bread, and I was giving her several days, little pieces,” said Tanya Guruva.
The family explained there was no water, food, or gas to keep them warm.
“We were collecting snow to get some water for kids,” said Tanya Guruva.
Tanya says they had to wait three days in Tijuana before being able to be let into the United States. On Friday, however, they finally were able to reunite with friends from Los Angeles who picked them up at the border.