Ukraine war: Two foreign aid workers die in Russian missile strike
Sunday, 10 September, 2023, 19:42
Two foreign aid volunteers have been killed and two others injured in a missile attack in Ukraine. The Road to Relief NGO said Anthony Ihnat, a Canadian, died in what it described as a "Russian attack" on a vehicle driving toward Bakhmut. Spain's government said a Spanish woman was also killed. The NGO had said its director Emma Igual, 32, was missing. The group said the vehicle suffered a "direct hit" near Chasiv Yar on Saturday, flipped over and caught fire. Road to Relief, which is registered in Ukraine, added in its statement that German medical volunteer Ruben Mawick and Johan Mathias Thyr, a Swede, were badly injured by shrapnel but were stable in hospital. The aid workers had left from Slovyansk and were headed to the Bakhmut area to assess the needs of civilians "caught in crossfire" in the town of Ivanivske, the statement said. The group did not confirm Spanish media reports that Ms Igual had died, only that her whereabouts were unknown. However Spain's foreign minister, Jose Manuel Albares, stated on Sunday that a Spanish woman had been killed in the attack. "A projectile fell on a vehicle in which this Spanish citizen was travelling," he said. "She was working there at an NGO helping with the humanitarian situation." Road to Relief said that the volunteers were working as a "needs assessment" team, "often the first to go into frontline villages". Their work had "resulted in numerous evacuations and crucial aid deliveries over the 18 months that we have been in operation," it said. Mr Ihnat was described in an online tribute by fellow NGO Action Beyond Words as "an unbelievably gentle, kind guy who would light up any room".
"We remember a beautiful hero to Ukraine," it said. Eastern Ukraine has become increasingly dangerous for aid workers, both Ukrainian and international. In its latest report, published last week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that there had been 100 "security incidents" affecting aid work this year. "Attacks impacting distribution points have steadily increased throughout the year, forcing a temporary suspension of aid on many occasions," it said. "In 2023, at least six aid workers were killed and 16 injured in the line of duty in Ukraine, compared to four killed in the whole of 2022." In January, British nationals Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw were killed as they tried to evacuate civilians in Soledar, north of Bakhmut, as Russia's Wagner mercenary group closed in.