June 26, 2022

Hassan Al-Khalaf, 11, clung to hope when he trekked throughout Ukraine by himself, safely reaching Slovakia after becoming a member of the lots of refugees escaping Russia’s invasion of their nation.

Hassan arrived in Slovakia in early March, drawing huge media consideration after native police posted his story on their Fb web page, calling him a “hero” after his lengthy journey by prepare and on foot from Zaporizhzhie in southeast Ukraine.

“I acquired my hope from my mother wanting me to go,” Hassan mentioned in an interview earlier than showing as a visitor at a pro-Ukraine demonstration within the Slovak capital in Bratislava on Friday.

“My hope carried me on my method,” he mentioned by an interpreter.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “particular operation.”

Hassan’s widowed mom couldn’t depart his grandmother at residence, so she despatched the boy off alone on the journey of over 1,000 km (620 miles) to Slovakia, the place his older brother research. He arrived with nothing however a plastic bag, passport and a telephone quantity written on his hand.

“This brings tears to our eyes. That is the largest hero of final evening,” Slovak police wrote on March 5 after Hassan appeared on the border crossing.

Hassan is certainly one of greater than 2.5 million refugees who’ve fled Ukraine, principally to Poland, but in addition Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, to succeed in the European Union.

At the least 176,000 have crossed Slovakia’s border in an exodus that the United Nations has known as the fastest-growing refugee disaster in Europe since World Battle Two.

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“I wish to say a giant thanks to the volunteers, as a result of they’re serving to folks they do not even know,” mentioned Hassan, who’s hopeful of seeing his mom once more.

“I consider that there might be a contented finish.”