these prams waiting for exiles illustrate the fate of families “who have left everything behind”

The scene, of a disturbing peace, appeared to him amid the chaos of the Przemysl station, in Poland, on Wednesday 2 March. Italian photojournalist Francesco Malavolta witnessed the formation of a beautiful row of empty prams intended for babies who had fled the war in Ukraine with their mothers. Many women have left everything behind and left their stroller in the country to travel faster, he tells franceinfo, a week later. Polish women and associations brought a few to the station so they could serve them as soon as they got off the train.

Since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, this station, located near the Medyka border crossing, has become one of the main gateways for Ukrainian migrants to Poland. “It is connected to the station in Lviv, Ukraine”underlines the 46-year-old photographer, who arrived on the scene 48 hours after the conflict started. “A lot of volunteers come to help newcomers there.”

The photo of these seven strollers on a dock has moved citizens around the world, including American comedian Amy Schumer, “taken aback”“It’s the most beautiful picture of the day”passed web userswelcoming an initiative that “warms the heart” and that restores confidence in “humanity” in this wartime.

For Francesco Malavolta, this shot also testifies to the “solidarity” inhabitants, “Respond faster than political leaders”alone “drama” refugees.

“This image simply shows the reality at the forefront of a worsening humanitarian crisis.”

Francesco Malavolta, freelance photojournalist

at franceinfo

On Thursday, March 3, a similar photo was taken at the Medyka post by French photographer Jan Schmidt-Whitley. There, on a stony ground and under a gray sky, we see stuffed animals waiting to meet their future owners.

Prams lined up at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on March 3, 2022. (MAXPPP)

Francesco Malavolta, a regular contributor to the UN International Organization for Migration, says he has been affected by: “the large number of women, the elderly and children” that he saw coming every day, “while men must stay behind and fight for their country”† If his work shows so many mothers and babies – and sometimes fathers saying goodbye to them -, “Not for convenience, to reach people, but because that’s how it goes on the field”he maintains.

Poland says it has welcomed 1.24 million Ukrainians to its territory since February 24. In the first ten days of the conflict, the town of Przemysl alone received 180,000, or three times the total of the municipal population, according to the mayor. Many migrants then continue their exile inland.

The solidarity of part of the Polish population did not stop at the border towns. Three days after the publication of Francesco Malavolta’s photo, a line of empty prams formed in the capital, outside the Warsaw East station, in front of a bus full of donations for Ukrainian families.

In Krakow, the library organized a large stroller collection at the end of February, inviting future refugee host families to collect them. “over 300” of those have already been distributed, enough to clear the corridors, according to management.

In Lodz, a local activist also started a baby stuff collection“To me this war has the face of a child”, she describes, quoted by the Polish site The First News (in English)We need to protect these children, starting with babies, who should have car seats to get off the border. They also need beds and strollers.”

As for Francesco Malavolta, he fell ill because of the cold Polish winter and difficult access to a bed and food in this stormed sector. The photographer recently set out for the Slovakia-Ukraine border, further south. He was able to discover new empty prams there on Sunday, in Vyšné Nemecké (Slovakia), waiting to find takers.