Nika Selivanova, who was 13 years old, waved goodbye to her best friend Inna, who was pressed up against the glass wall that separated the entrance hall of the Kherson train station from the waiting area.

They had just hugged, and tears were welling up in their eyes. Asia, a tan dachshund dog, was wrapped in a warm blanket and being held by Nika. Inna had kissed Asia.

The girls didn’t know when they would see each other again.

When Nika’s family left Kherson, they didn’t know where they would end up. For now, they were going to the city of Khmelnytskyi in the west, where they hoped to find help.

Elena, Nika’s mother, had had enough of living in Kherson for the past few days.

“They used to shell us seven to ten times a day, but now they do it 70 to 80 times a day, all day long. It’s too dangerous.” Elena said. “I love Ukraine and my city very much. But we need to leave.”

Elena and her three daughters are among the more than 400 people who have left Kherson since Christmas Day. This is because the Russian military has stepped up its attacks on the city in a big way.

Elena left by train. The Ukrainian government helped her get out of the country.
Hundreds of people are leaving on their own. There is a line of terrified civilians in their cars at the checkpoint on the way out of Kherson.

When we walked up to Iryna Antonenko’s car to talk to her, she was crying.

“This is too much for us. So much shelling is going on. We stayed the whole time because we thought it would go away if we were lucky. “But the house next to us was hit by a strike, and my father’s house was also shelled,” she said.

She wanted to go to Kryvyi Rih, which is in the centre of Ukraine and where she has family.
Last month, there was a lot of happiness in Kherson. The city was taken by Russian forces on the second day of the invasion. On November 11, it was set free.

On Christmas Eve, there was a mortar attack near where many Ukrainians had gathered waving flags to celebrate being freed from Russian control. Eleven people were killed and dozens were hurt.

A social worker, a butcher, and a woman selling mobile Sim cards were among the people who died. They were all regular people who worked at or went to the city’s central market.

The Ukrainian government says that 41 mortars hit the city of Kherson that day.

The Russians are shooting from the left (east) bank of the Dnipro river, where they have retreated. The river has become a de facto frontline in the south of Ukraine.

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