At the Ukrainian border, a mother takes the children of a stranger to safety

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BEREGSURANY, Hungary, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Entering the mobile phone number of a woman she had never met, Nataliya Ableyeva crossed the border between Ukraine and Hungary on Saturday, laden with a precious cargo .

The children of a stranger.

Waiting at the border crossing on the Ukrainian side, Ableyeva had met a desperate 38-year-old man from her hometown of Kamianets-Podilskyi, along with his young son and daughter.

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The border guards did not let him pass. Ukraine has banned all Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving, so they can fight for their country.

“Their father simply handed over the two children to me and trusted me by giving me their passports to bring them over,” said Ableyeva, 58, the arms of the young boy she had known for a few hours around her. . neck.

The children’s Ukrainian mother was on her way from Italy to meet them and take them to safety, the father said. He gave Ableyeva the mother’s mobile number and said goodbye to her children, wrapped up against the cold in thick jackets and hats.

Ableyeva had left her two adult children behind in Ukraine. One policeman, the other a nurse, neither of them could leave Ukraine under the mobilization decree.

She took the two small children by the hand and together they crossed the border.

On the Hungarian side, at Beregsurany, they waited, seated on a bench near a tent pitched for the steady stream of refugees crossing the border. The little boy was crying when his cell phone rang.

It was his mother, she was almost at the border post.

When Anna Semyuk, 33, arrived, her blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, she hugged her son and walked over to her daughter, lying exhausted in the back of a car and wrapped in a pink blanket .

Then she thanked Ableyeva. Standing in the cold on the brushy ground, two women embraced for several minutes and began to cry.

“All I can tell my children now is that everything will be fine,” Semyuk said. “In a week or two, and we’ll be going home.”

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Reporting by Anita Komuves, writing by Krisztina Than, editing by Ros Russell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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