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Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Poland face long journey and freezing temperatures: "Please stop"

Thousands of Ukrainians flee to Poland
Thousands of women, children flee from Ukraine to Poland as Russian invasion continues 03:47

As the number of Ukrainians fleeing their country continues to grow, Poland is receiving more refugees than any of Ukraine's other neighbors.

Around one million people have arrived in Poland since Russia began invading Ukraine on February 24, Polish officials said. Hundreds of thousands more are expected to arrive soon, after making their way out of cities and the war zone. 

"CBS Mornings" co-host Tony Dokoupil visited the Polish village of Medyka, one of the busiest border crossings for Ukrainian refugees, and met dozens of families — many with young children — who have already made the journey. Some were so overcome they couldn't even talk about the situation.

Dokoupil on Monday said nothing prepared him for the sight of so many people walking out of their homeland: the mothers, grandmothers, and the children — so many in their mothers' arms, in strollers or holding hands. Some were no taller than their family's luggage.

Among the refugees were people who traveled from as far as Kharkiv, one of Ukraine's biggest cities, which is about 700 miles away from Medyka. There were also those waiting for their families to arrive, like a woman who was standing alone and desperate for an end to the violence.

"I love Russian people. I love American people. I love every people in the world. Please stop. Not war, no war, please," she said as she became overcome with emotion.

Further up the path, a little boy in a dinosaur hat was nuzzled into his mother's neck, exhausted after rushing overnight by bus to the border. The day before, his mother said, three of her friends were shot in the fighting, but that's not all.

Another friend, she said, was hung by the Russians. Another was raped, she told Dokoupil.

The fathers, sons, and brothers, meanwhile, can't go any further. All the men aged 18 to 60 in Ukraine are required to stay and fight. Those allowed to leave are left worrying about those who can't — or, in some cases, won't. Another refugee who spoke with Dokoupil said she was worried about her brother, who is fighting, and her parents, who are older and insisted on staying.

Amid the fear and exhaustion at the border, there were also signs of kindness: volunteers with warm food, drinks and boxes and boxes of supplies. But after walking for days and for miles, what many refugees really wanted was just a place to sit down and get warm amid freezing cold temperatures.

When refugees are ready to move on, there's a bus to a more permanent relief center, a former high-end shopping mall, converted into a shelter now housing for hundreds. That's where they can finally charge their phones and wait for the call everyone is hoping for — the call that war is over, and that they can go home, before home is gone forever.

For those refugees who have made it to this checkpoint, they have the chance to resettle in any European Union country for up to three years.

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