Boy, 11, flees Ukraine alone & travels 1,200km to Slovakia with phone number written on hand

Hassan's mother had to stay behind to look after her mother, who was unable to move on her own. 

Lean Jinghui | March 12, 2022, 06:12 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

An 11-year-old Ukrainian boy travelled some 1,200km from his home in eastern Ukraine to Slovakia, with nothing but a plastic bag, a red backpack, his passport, and a phone number written on his hand.

According to the BBC, Hassan's mother put him on a train, and he made the journey from Zaporizhzhia alone.

His mother, a widow, needed to stay behind to take care of her mother, who was unable to move on her own.

Their town in Ukraine is home to Europe's biggest nuclear power plant, which was seized by Russian forces last weekend. It is currently undergoing intense shelling by the Russian military.

Hailed as a hero

In a Facebook post on Mar. 6, the Slovakian police said that Hassan was a "true hero", who had won officials over with his "smile, fearlessness, and determination."

Via Polícia Slovenskej republiky Facebook

Officials helped Hassan cross the border when he arrived. Volunteers also gave him food and drinks, and packed extra for his next journey.

Via Polícia Slovenskej republiky Facebook

Via Polícia Slovenskej republiky Facebook

Via Polícia Slovenskej republiky Facebook

Using the phone number on his hand, border officials also successfully got in touch with Hassan's relatives in Slovakia, and reunited them.

Via Polícia Slovenskej republiky Facebook

In a subsequent video posted by Slovakian police on Mar. 6, Hassan's mother thanked Slovak authorities and customs officers, who she said had taken him by the hand and "helped him cross the border":

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

"Please save our Ukrainian children"

In her message, Hassan's mother, visibly choking up with emotion, also added: "Please save our Ukrainian children and give them a safe haven."

As of Mar. 12, more than two million people have fled the war in Ukraine, according to the latest figures from the United Nation.

More than 1.5 million have arrived in Poland, while 176,092 have reached Slovakia.

Hassan had shared in an interview at a Mar. 11 pro-Ukraine demonstration in Bratislava that "hope carried him" on his way to Slovakia, Reuters reported.

Slovakia's Interior Minister expressed his admiration for the 11-year-old:

"Little Hassan is only 11-years-old, but in his way he has shown huge determination, courage, and fearlessness that sometimes adults don't have. I am really very sorry for him and and all the other children and their families who have to flee their country because of what is happening in Ukraine.

He won everyone's hearts with his smile, fearlessness, and determination, worthy of a true hero."

Follow and listen to our podcast here

Top images via Polícia Slovenskej republiky Facebook