Evacuees from separatist-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine continued to cross into Russia through a border checkpoint Sunday, entering the southern Rostov region by car, bus and by foot, a CNN reporter on the ground observed.
At the Avila-Uspenka border checkpoint 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.
The traffic coming out of Donetsk was moderate with families driving in cars with Donetsk People’s Republic license plates and occasional groups of evacuees trickling in small groups of two to four people, mostly families with young children.
One evacuee from the city of Donetsk told CNN that her family evacuated on short notice after hearing shellfire early Sunday morning.
“Everything happened spontaneously, we heard sounds of shelling around 1:00 a.m., I grabbed my baby and ran,” Irina, 35, told CNN near the checkpoint border crossing, after getting driven to the checkpoint and then crossing by foot with her 5-year old son, Danil. Irina declined to give her last name to CNN out of safety concerns.
The local Russian emergency services set up makeshift cafeterias, toilets and showers, along with two rows of inflatable makeshift tents inside which some evacuees slept on bunk beds while waiting to be taken to other accommodation.
Meanwhile, rows of empty buses waited to take the evacuees camps and sanatoriums in the nearby port city of Taganrog.
“We left voluntarily, no one is making us 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 whether they were given instructions on when they might be able to come back, the couple said no.
Local officials in the Rostov region have declared a state of emergency after separatist leaders on Friday ordered the evacuation of civilians from the region.