Refugee boy, 11, travels 600 miles alone from Ukraine to Slovakia with phone number written on hand

He had a phone number of relatives in Slovakia written on his hand

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Monday 07 March 2022 11:54 GMT
11-year-old Ukrainian refugee traveled alone 1000km to Slovakia to get to safety
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An 11-year-old refugee has been hailed a hero after he travelled more than 600 miles alone from Ukraine to Slovakia to escape Putin’s forces.

The young boy from Zaporizhzhia - the site of the nuclear power plant which captured by Russian forces last week - crossed the border to Slovakia all alone with just a backpack, a plastic bag, a passport and a phone number written on his hand.

The boy’s mother sent him on the journey by train to live safely with relatives, while she stayed behind in Ukraine to take care of her sick mother.

Slovakian authorities praised the boy and said volunteers looked after him when he arrived, giving him food and drinks.

In a statement posted on the Slovakian ministry’s Facebook page, the Slovak Minister of Interior said: “[The boy] gained all of them with his smile, fearlessness and determination, worthy to be a true hero.”

The statement added that the boy was reunited with his relatives in Bratislava thanks to the phone number written on his hand, and a piece of paper in his passport.

The boy travelled more than 600 miles to Slovakia from the city of Zaporizhzhia

He had a phone number of a relative written on his hand

In a video message, the boy’s mother, Yulia Volodymyrivna Pisecka, said she is a widow and mum to several children.

She thanked the Slovakian police and government for taking care of her son and said the custom officers “took him by the hand and helped him cross the border in Slovakia”.

She added: “I am grateful you saved my son’s life.”

The custom officers at the border helped him to cross into Slovakia

It comes as more than 1.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine as a result of Russia’s invasion, according to the United Nations (UN).

As well as Slovakia, Ukrainians who have left the country are fleeing to neighbours such as Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova. UN figures show that Poland has taken in the largest number of refugees with 1,027,603 Ukrainians crossing the border.

Follow our live coverage of Russia-Ukraine news here.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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