A Blackpool father worries about his daughters in the Ukrainian capital
Marek Polkowski, 47, a security guard who has lived in Blackpool for nine years, says his two eldest daughters live in a five-storey building which has already been damaged by shelling as the town is surrounded by the Russian army invasive.
Students Sonia, 19, and Bogdana, 21, want to escape to safety in Poland.
But the Polish border is about 500 miles from Kiev, which is in northeast Ukraine.
Marek was previously married to the girls’ Ukrainian mother Anna, who managed to reach Poland with her youngest daughter Julia, 16, and he lived in Ukraine with the family when the girls were young.
He hopes that a so-called “green corridor” can be officially established, allowing refugees to escape without being attacked.
He said: “I’m just a normal person, I can’t do anything to help them and all I can do is watch and I try to keep in touch through Facebook and tell them to stay safe. .
“It’s worrying for me, really difficult, with everything that’s going on, the situation is changing every day.
“Already the building where they live has been damaged by Russian shells and they are really scared – they hear explosions all the time.
“There were curfew days to keep people off the streets at night.
“Their hope is to get a train west and then to Poland, with a ‘green corridor’ to protect them from attack.
“But the people trying to leave have even been bombed by the Russians, so even they are not safe.
“They have to get out, from Kiev and Ukraine, but at the moment they are stuck.
“As a father, I’m so worried about them all the time.
“A friend of mine tried to leave Kyiv but the Russians started shooting so he had to go back.”
Marek said his daughters said the stores were running out of food.
He says Russian President Vladimir Putin is unpredictable, which makes the situation across Eastern Europe worrying.
Marek came to Blackpool to find the grave of his uncle, Zygmunt Widczak, an airman based in Britain during World War II.
He eventually found Zygmunt’s grave in Layton Cemetery, where he was laid to rest after he died aged just 28, in 1945.
Marek decided to stay in Blackpool and made the resort his home, working as a club doorman in recent years, at bars such as Ma Kellys and as hotel security.
He said: “I like it here in Blackpool, that’s why I stayed.
“I wasn’t worried about my daughters living in Ukraine at first, it seemed safe.
“But the war in the East has started and now the Russians are here.
“I see on the news how many people are leaving and I just wish my two daughters could be with them.
“I still have hope that they can get out.”
With nearly two weeks of conflict, the migration of refugees out of Ukraine is already the fastest since World War II.
Yesterday (Sunday March 6), the number of Ukrainians fleeing the war to neighboring countries reached 1.5 million in 10 days, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The majority fled to Poland, as well as to Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and other European Union countries.
The UK has been criticized for only granting 50 visas so far to Ukrainians trying to come to Britain, with Home Secretary Priti Patel at the center of a storm over the slow pace of the answer.
But Marek thinks few Ukrainians would want to go so far from their homeland
However, communities across the country, including Fylde coastal areas such as Blackpool, Lytham and Fleetwood, have been actively trying to help by collecting essential items to transport to Eastern Europe for the benefit of the refugees.
The Fylde Aid for Ukraine appeal has seen thousands of essential items and over £6,500 donated to help refugees displaced by war in their country.
Marek added: “All I want is for the world to put pressure on Russia to let go of people who want to leave Ukraine, to have a green corridor where they can travel safely and not be bombarded.
“So far I’ve told my girls to hide, stay where they are and stay safe.