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Why are some men being turned away from the Ukrainian border?

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By Ben Anthony Horton  with AP
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Over one million refugees have fled Ukraine so far - but many men are being made to stay behind
Over one million refugees have fled Ukraine so far - but many men are being made to stay behind   -   Copyright  AP Photo

Pavlo Bilodid wiped away tears as he kissed his wife and two-year-old daughter goodbye at Lviv bus station on Tuesday.

Helping them board the bus to Poland, he is one of a growing number of men forced to separate from their families as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

“It's terrible because it was so unexpected and nobody was prepared for this situation,” says Pavlo, who is staying behind to fight for his country.

"We have to volunteer and we will do what we can here in Lviv, and if we need, we will go to Kyiv to fight.”

At 33 years old, Pavlo falls into the group of men currently banned from leaving Ukraine. The measure was imposed on all 18 - 60 years olds by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an effort to defeat the Russian forces.

Three generations of his family have already made the trip to safety, crossing the border into Poland after fighting intensified in the Ukrainian capital.

But Pavlo and his father will remain - hopeful that they will see their family again one day soon.

“I'm sure that we will see them,” he says, “but for now, we will take the gun and we will fight, because it's our land."

Over one million people have now fled Ukraine for neighbouring countries, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Many more are expected to follow in the days and weeks to come.

Watch the video above to see Pavlo’s story.

Video editor • Ben Anthony Horton