ΑρχικήΔΙΑΦΟΡΑThe 11-Year-Old Ukrainian Refugee Who Fled to Slovakia Alone

The 11-Year-Old Ukrainian Refugee Who Fled to Slovakia Alone

ukrainian refugee 11 alone
“Little Hassan,” the 11-year-old Ukrainian refugee who fled to Slovakia alone. Credit: Interior Ministry of Slovakia

The amazing story of an 11-year-old Ukrainian refugee who traveled hundreds of miles to Slovakia alone has amazed the world.

The boy, whose family were Syrian refugees before arriving in Ukraine ten years ago, has won the hearts of millions of people internationally.

His mother, who is Ukrainian, fled Syria with her children ten years ago during the Syrian Civil War after her Syrian husband went missing during the brutal conflict.

“Little Hassan,” as he has been dubbed, traveled the 600 miles to Slovakia from Ukraine by train alone with just a plastic bag, passport, and telephone number written on his hand.

11-year-old Ukrainian refugee fled from Syria as a baby

Yulia Pisetskaya, his desperate mother, sent the boy off in the hopes of protecting him. She and her family live near a power plant that has been taken over by Russian forces, and her mother is elderly and immobile.

Knowing that she couldn’t flee with her mother, but that her son staying could risk his life, she made the desperate decision to send him to safety by train.

She quickly scrawled the telephone number of his older siblings in Slovakia, hoping that he would be safely reunited with them soon.

Luckily, Hassan made it to the nearby country safely and was quickly taken to his siblings.

Slovakia’s Interior Ministry hailed the little refugee on Facebook, writing that Hassan, who has “won everybody’s hearts,”  displayed “fearlessness and determination worthy of a real hero.”

One of the Ukrainian refugee’s sisters, Luna, told The Washington Post that his siblings thought of going into Ukraine to retrieve him, but it was too dangerous:

“We thought maybe one of us could go back to Ukraine and take him, but it was very dangerous, and it was very surprising when he crossed…It’s the best thing that happened because I was scared for him.”

She recounted the family’s previous experience as refugees, saying that her brother “was very small and doesn’t remember. I was glad for it and I hoped he would never see such war.”

Boy’s mother thankful that Slovakia welcomed her son

Pisetskaya, the young refugee’s mother, tearfully expressed her gratitude to Slovakia and the country’s people in a video released by the country.

“I am very grateful that they saved the life of my child…In your small country, there are people with big hearts,” she said.

In the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, an estimated 2 million Ukrainian refugees have fled the country, according to the refugee agency of the United Nations.

The stunning figure represent nearly 4% of the entire Ukrainian population, and as men aged 18 to 60 are not permitted to leave the country, the vast majority of refugees are women and children.

Currently, the largest share of refugees, around 1 million people, are currently housed in Poland, but many have also fled to Moldova, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia.

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