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The families staggered in, bleary-eyed, to a two-room kindergarten around 1 a.m., exhausted after a long journey from their home in Cherkasy, about 300 miles away. Fearful of the threat from the Russian invasion, they had decided it was time to leave and make their way along with tens of thousands of others to the safer regions of western Ukraine.

It was slow going. The roads were jammed with Ukrainians making a similar exodus. As they settled in for a few hours of sleep on a set of cots sized for 4-year-olds, air raid sirens blared from the administrative building next door.

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