FACT CHECK: Does This Picture Show An Elderly Man Evacuating Ukraine With His Cat In March 2022?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows an elderly man attempting to evacuate Ukraine with his pet cat.

Verdict: False

The photo was taken in Turkey in 2018. It has nothing to do with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Fact Check:

More than 2.5 million refugees have fled war-torn Ukraine since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) website. The estimated economic damage from the war could be as high as $100 billion, Reuters reported.

Social media users have been sharing an image of an elderly man holding a cat in his arms while he walks away from a damaged area, claiming it shows a Ukrainian refugee. “UKRAINE – Mar. 2022 – THIS – this photo of an elderly man walking with a cane, his little terrified cat in his weak hands, speaks volumes and elicits such sadness in my soul,” reads text included in the post. (RELATED: Does This Image Show Ukrainian Christians Praying In February 2022?)

The photo predates the conflict in Ukraine. A reverse image search revealed the photo was taken by photographer Ilhami Cetin in 2018 and can be found on Getty Images. “83-year-old Ali Mese carries a cat saved from a fire by firefighters during snowfall as firefighters try to extinguish the fire broken out at old man’s home after he tried to light a heating stove with gasoline in Mudurnu district of Bolu, Turkey on January 17, 2018,” the photo’s caption reads.

Cetin shared screen grabs on his Instagram of several news reports that featured his photo at the time. The photo also appeared in a 2018 Daily Mirror article and won an award from the Anadolu Agency, according to Hurriyet Daily News. Several other pictures of Mese and his cat can be seen in the Hurriyet article.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter