Fleeing Ukrainian's plea to NATO: 'close the skies'

STORY: As a flood of Ukrainian refugees fleeing a Russian invasion pours over the borders into neighboring nations, the people bring with them harrowing stories of hardship.

"We stayed for a week near Kyiv. We thought it would be safer there than in Kyiv. But our town was bombed. We fled from there. We saw many cars left on the road. A lot of bombed cars. We were escaping to Kyiv, but now the situation in Kyiv is also scary because a few days ago (they) started bombing Kyiv. And it is very unsafe there."

Yana, who declined to give her surname, spoke to Reuters after crossing into Romania on Monday. She's one of an estimated one-point-seven million civilians displaced by the Russian onslaught.

And that number could just be the beginning. Here's the European Union's foreign policy chief:

"If the bombings continue like this, if they continue to bomb cities in an indiscriminate manner, we can expect 5 million migrants. Well, not migrants, we can't call them migrants, these are exiled people, people. who seek to escape the war."

Far too many are children.

At a train station in Przemysl, in southeastern Poland, volunteers waited to greet youngsters, some sent without parents, to escape the fighting.

In a shelter in the nearby town Medyka, a refugee named Olena, who didn't give her last name, huddled in tents against the snow and begged the nations of NATO enforce a no-fly zone over her country to protect the people from Russian airstrikes.

"Every Ukrainian just hopes that NATO will close the sky for us. Because we are ready to fight, and we are ready to protect us from tanks, from artillery, from GRAD (systems) etc. But we are not able to protect our sky. We only beg God to protect the sky, because NATO is just watching, but doesn’t do anything for us. We beg for protection."

Poland, which has the largest Ukrainian community in Central Europe, has received more than 1 million Ukrainian refugees since the conflict began.

The fighting has created the largest wave of refugees in Europe since the Second World War.