Ukraine war: Two foreign aid workers die in Russian missile strike
Kyiv has reported the loss of two foreign aid volunteers in an eastern Ukraine missile strike attributed to Russia, with two additional individuals sustaining injuries.
The casualties include Emma Igual, the Spanish director of Road to Relief, and her Canadian colleague Anthony Ihnat, who tragically lost their lives while traveling toward Bakhmut on Saturday.
Ruben Mawick, a German volunteer, and Johan Mathias Thyr, a Swedish national, were both seriously injured due to shrapnel during the attack.
The non-governmental organization (NGO) reported that their vehicle sustained a “direct hit,” causing it to overturn and ignite.
The aid workers had departed from Slovyansk and were en route to assess the needs of civilians who were “caught in the crossfire” in Ivanivske. Spain confirmed the death of one of its nationals in the incident.
Road to Relief, established in Ukraine just last year to aid in the evacuation of civilians from the frontlines, indicated that their team was in the process of evaluating the requirements of Ivanivske when they came under attack by Russian forces.
Their dedicated efforts had already resulted in numerous evacuations and the crucial delivery of aid over the course of their 18 months in operation.
Anthony Ihnat was remembered in an online tribute by fellow NGO Action Beyond Words as “an incredibly gentle and kind individual who had the ability to brighten any room.”
“We remember a beautiful hero to Ukraine,” it said.
The Ukrainian defense ministry blamed “Russian terrorists” for the attack and said that Road to Relief was “entirely focused on civilian projects”.
It said the deaths were “a painful, irreparable loss. Emma and Anthony will forever be in our hearts.”
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.