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Ukrainian mother flees with children to Slovakia, forced to leave husband behind

Struggling to hold back tears, Mariana, a 29-year-old Ukrainian, said the situation in Ukraine was “very difficult, and there is a lot of shelling, tanks” after she reached safety in Slovakia on Friday (February 25) fleeing the Russian invasion.

She managed to flee from Ivano-Frankivsk to Ubla, at the Slovak-Ukrainian border with her two children. Her husband is still back in Ukraine.

“All men must fight for country. For peace, to prevent attacks from enemy forces, and for everything to be all right … we and children must leave Ukraine,” said Mariana.

Ukrainian rules restrict men aged 18-60, who could be conscripted, from crossing the border. Footage from the country’s borders show mostly woman and children crossing.

Mariana is one of thousands who have fled Ukraine and crossed into Slovakia. Many of them are greeted by friends and relatives.

Yuriy Balon, a Ukrainian living in Prague, had come to Ubla earlier, to be glad to be reunited with his family after two days of fear.

A few are driving in the opposite direction. Ivan Conka, 54, is one of them, saying he wanted to return to Ukraine to protect the country and his family.

People are continuing to cross Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to seek shelter from the fighting.

(Production: Jiri Skacel, Anna Dittrich)

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