Zelenskiy's hometown now a hub for fleeing Ukrainians

STORY: In recent days, the southern Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih has become a hub for hundreds of people fleeing conflict, including children and the elderly.

But the industrial hub is better known as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's hometown.

Here, he is held in high regard by local residents.

“We can say that Zelenskiy is a hero. And this is the city of our great hero.”

Most of the people who have traveled to visit the community center here for support are from the nearby, war-torn Kherson region where Russian forces have continued to advance.

They hope to register with the local authorities and collect humanitarian aid, like blankets and food.

62-year-old Liudmyla Grakh made it to the city just days ago, but her husband died from a heart attack while attempting to flee.

“I have nowhere else to go. I am here with my sister. When they say it’s alright to return home, I will return home."

The city’s deputy mayor says the number of displaced Ukrainians arriving from Kherson has been reaching up to 1,000 each day.

Most of them aren’t planning to stay for the long-term, as many fear that Kryvyi Rih is right on the edge of the conflict.

Still, some local residents told Reuters they’re not too worried about the possibility of Russian troops advancing in what Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

“At first there was panic. Every single day I thought, ‘where should I flee to?’ I have a daughter, I wanted to drive her away somewhere from all of this. But then we calmed down a little bit. And believed that we can do this. So why we should go somewhere else in the first place?”

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than 5 million Ukrainians have fled abroad since the start of the conflict in late February.

Millions more are displaced within the country.

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