‘Hero’: Slovakians hail boy, 11, who traveled 700 miles alone from Ukraine | Ukraine

The mother of an 11-year-old boy from Ukraine who traveled for nearly 700 miles to Slovakia with just a plastic bag, a passport and a telephone number written on his hand has spoken of her relief at her son’s safe escape from Russian bombs.

Yulia Pisetskaya said she had put her son on a train to Slovakia from Zaporizhzhia, close to the nuclear plant that came under attack from Russian forces last week, out of desperation.

She had been unable to leave with him from south-east Ukraine because she was unwell and needed to look after her disabled mother.

Slovakian border guards looked after the boy, who has not been named, on his arrival, according to the police, who have described him as a “hero”. He had the phone number of relatives in the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, written on his hand. The authorities were able to track them down and they have since taken him into their care.

“I am very grateful that they saved the life of my child,” Pisetskaya said in a video message posted on Facebook on Sunday. “In your small country, there are people with big hearts.”

She added: “I am a widow and I have more children. I want to thank the Slovak customs and volunteers who took care of my son and helped him cross the border. I am grateful you have saved my child’s life. Next to my town is a nuclear power plant that the Russians are shooting at. I could not leave my mother – she can not move on her own. ”

The Slovakian interior ministry said on Facebook that the boy “won everybody’s hearts with his smile, fearlessness and determination, worthy of a real hero”. They said the authorities had “kept him warm and provided him with food and drink, which they packed for his next trip”.

Officials added: “Thanks to the number on his hand and a piece of paper in his waist, he managed to contact his loved ones, who came for him later, and the whole story ended well.”

“He came all alone from Zaporizhzhia because his parents had to stay in Ukraine,” police spokeswoman Denisa Bardyova told AFP. “The boy was cared for by many, be it policemen, soldiers, customs officers or volunteers and various religious or civil organizations.”

Russian troops attacked the Zaporizhzhia site, Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, which creates around 20% of Ukraine’s electricity, in the early hours of Friday. They have since taken control of the facility.

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