More and more Ukrainian children are fleeing alone: ​​’heartbreaking’ | Instagram

An 11-year-old boy from the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia fled alone to Slovakia with only a plastic bag and a phone number written on his hand. He’s not the only child his parents alone have sent out of the country in hopes of escaping the war. More and more children are on the road without parents, Save the Children report.

Simon van Zuwenen, Carla van der Waal

Last updated:
03-09-22, 10:07

An estimated 800,000 children have fled Ukraine in recent weeks. They are increasingly arriving in neighboring countries without parents, according to messages Save the Children receives from border regions. It seems that their relatives who cannot leave Ukraine on their own still want to bring their children to safety, away from fighting on the ground and air attacks. So they send them with neighbors or friends. There are children losing their parents in this mess. Many children outside alone are under 14 years old.

The 11-year-old boy who fled to Slovakia alone is one of them. His mother, Yulia Besica, put her son on a train bound for the border in the hope that kind-hearted strangers would pick him up. “There is a nuclear power plant next to my city, it was shot by the Russians. It was on fire. I can’t leave my 84-year-old mother, she can’t move independently, so I sent my son to the Slovak border by train.” The country has people with big hearts, please save our Ukrainian children and give them a safe haven.”

The text continues below the image

The 11-year-old was arrested at the Slovak border. © Slovak government

The boy was picked up at the border – a thousand kilometers away – by volunteers who took care of him and gave him food and drink. He enveloped them all with his smile, fearlessness and determination. “A true hero,” the Slovak government said. Thanks to the phone number on his hand, the boy’s relatives in Slovakia were called and picked up.

His family lives in Ukraine in the shadow of the Zaporizhzhya Power Plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant on the Black Sea. It was seized by Russian forces last week after heavy bombardment, drawing global condemnation over fears it could cause one of the largest radioactive leaks in history.


Save the Children works to track families of children traveling alone, to ensure family reunification and to ensure the safety of this group. But this cannot prevent the “heartbreaking” scenes, according to Irina Sagoyan, Save the Children’s Eastern Europe director. Parents resort to desperate measures to protect their children. For example, they send children with friends or neighbors in search of safety outside Ukraine, while staying at home to protect their homes.” But this burdens children. It can cause psychological stress, insecurity, fear of family members and fear of separation. But children are vulnerable Also at risk of violence, exploitation, human trafficking and abuse. These children need protection. The faster we move, the better chance that these families can still be reunited.”


Meanwhile, images of fleeing and hiding people touch the hearts of others watching. CNN filmed another boy crying across the Polish border. It is not clear if he crossed the border alone or if his parents were close. Mass exodus from Ukraine continues, the United Nations said, sparking the fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Watch our videos about the war in Ukraine here:

Leave a Comment