'I need to risk those 24 hours to give my daughter a normal life,' says Zainish Hussain as he figures out how to escape from Kherson
A man desperate to flee Kherson with his three-year-old daughter has told ITV News that he would rather risk a perilous 24-hour journey to the border than stay in the besieged Ukrainian city, where he claims innocent civilians have been shot by Russian troops.
Zainish Hussain's hopes of Ukrainian forces being able to fend off Russian advances into the southern city quickly faded when he awoke to the sound of gunshot and tanks outside his window.
The incident left him feeling like he was "going to die," and left him desperate to escape the city, where residents have squeezed onto trains in a frantic scramble to flee the fighting.
The father feared for his life when he saw Russian tanks outside of his window
"Living here sounds very non-realistic and terrifying," Mr Hussain told ITV News.
"Just imagine that you have soldiers in the city that have killed normal civilians like you. You cannot feel secure next to them."
But he said leaving with his three-year-old daughter will be extremely difficult and expensive, given how far the nearest border is and because banks have run out of cash.
Many of the one million Ukrainian refugees leaving their country have fled to Poland, while others have gone to Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.
Mr Hussain has been told the trip to safety will cost between $6000 and $7000- some six times more than he would normally have to pay to hire a car and a driver for such a journey.
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But the father said the hiked prices are worth it as he can no longer distract his daughter from the horrors of the Russian invasion now the city is under the complete control of the invaders.
"When the war was out of the city, we could keep her busy with cartoons and earphones around her ears... But since then it is unavoidable," he said.
"I just want a normal life for my daughter. I want her in safety. For that I need to risk those 24 hours."
Mr Hussain said there is no end in sight to the Russian attack, so he believes there is no point in waiting to see if a diplomatic resolution is agreed between the Kremlin and Ukraine.
"We have seen wars that take a week, a month and then there are wars - like in Afghanistan - that took two decades to finish," he said, as Kherson's mayor said the city would maintain a strict 8pm to 6am curfew.
His comments come amid fears that forces from Moscow could use the port city for amphibious landings due to its position on the Black Sea.
Mayor Igor Kolykhaev said when Russian soldiers came to the city administration building, he asked them not to shoot civilians and to allow crews to gather up the bodies from the streets.Kherson is the biggest Ukrainian city to fall in the eight day invasion thus far.