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Nadia Kuzhukhar, 27, fled Kyiv with her sister and 2-year-old son Maksim. They took temporary shelter in the Church of St. Lazarus in Lviv, Ukraine.

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Nadia Kuzhukhar, 27, fled Kyiv with her sister and 2-year-old son Maksim. They took temporary shelter in the Church of St. Lazarus in Lviv, Ukraine.

Claire Harbage/NPR

More than 2 million people have already fled the Russian war in Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency, and many pass through Lviv, a major tourist destination in the western region of Ukraine, en route to the countries neighbors. Over the past two weeks, Lviv has quickly become a main transit point for refugees from across the east, hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced Ukrainians. Many are heading for the border with Poland, but others are choosing to stay in the relative safety of western Ukraine for now.

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Displaced people from eastern Ukraine walk out of Lviv train station. More than 2 million people have already fled the country following the Russian invasion.

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Displaced people from eastern Ukraine walk out of Lviv train station. More than 2 million people have already fled the country following the Russian invasion.

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A man sleeps in a cafe-turned-shelter in Lviv, Ukraine. The western town is now a main transit point for refugees from across the east, hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced Ukrainians.

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A man sleeps in a cafe-turned-shelter in Lviv, Ukraine. The western town is now a main transit point for refugees from across the east, hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced Ukrainians.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Nadia Kuzhukhar, 27, left Kyiv with her sister and 2-year-old son Maksim, leaving behind her husband, who had joined the Home Defense on the first day of the war. Kuzhukhar said she was pregnant with her second child. She and her sister, Katerina Beliakova, 21, took a short break in Lviv, spending Saturday evening at a church before heading to their friend’s house in western Ukraine.

“We came with no food, no clothes, nothing with us because we thought when the sirens went off we were just going to go to the subway station and sit there for 15 minutes, but obviously that didn’t happen. didn’t go like this,” Beliakova said. The family lives near Kiev airport and Nadia Kuzhukhar’s husband urged them to leave the city as soon as possible.

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Maksim, 2, is being held by his aunt Beliakova (centre) with his sister, mother, Kuzhukhar.

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Maksim, 2, is being held by his aunt Beliakova (centre) with his sister, mother, Kuzhukhar.

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Most of those displaced are women and children fleeing the fighting, while the government has ordered that men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave the country. Thousands of men and women remained behind and voluntarily enlisted in Ukraine’s territorial defense forces. , cultural centers and volunteers, are helping people who have fled parts of eastern Ukraine with donated goods and places to sleep, including diapers for Maksim.

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Maksim plays with toys at the church where the family slept after leaving Kiev. They were able to find food and supplies – including diapers for him – in church donations.

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Maksim plays with toys at the church where the family slept after leaving Kiev. They were able to find food and supplies – including diapers for him – in church donations.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Both sisters are from Mariupol, which was besieged. Six days had passed without any communication from their parents – the last they had had were scary photos and videos sent by their father. “We don’t even know they’re alive,” Beliakova said in a shaky voice. In a chaotic cellphone video, they could see their father throwing himself to the ground, the sound of airstrikes playing in the background. Other images showed damage to the family’s building.

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Katerina Beliakova, 21, shows a photo she says she received from her father from her parents’ house in the beleaguered coastal city of Mariupol, Ukraine.

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Katerina Beliakova, 21, shows a photo she says she received from her father from her parents’ house in the beleaguered coastal city of Mariupol, Ukraine.

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But a few days later, they managed a 30-second phone call with their father. He told them that he and their mother were staying at a shelter, although the volunteers could not reach them due to the constant shelling. There are corpses in the streets. They only have apples to eat.

“We just want to live as we lived before,” Beliakova cried.

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A soldier says goodbye to his wife at the Lviv train station.

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A soldier says goodbye to his wife at the Lviv train station.

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A train from Poland, in front, passes a train full of Ukrainian refugees. Most of the millions of displaced people are women and children.

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A train from Poland, in front, passes a train full of Ukrainian refugees. Most of the millions of displaced people are women and children.

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People line up for hours at the Ukrainian-Polish border at Korczowa-Krakovets.

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People line up for hours at the Ukrainian-Polish border at Korczowa-Krakovets.

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A girl looks out of the window of a train leaving Lviv station after bidding farewell to her father.

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A girl looks out of the window of a train leaving Lviv station after bidding farewell to her father.

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