Two British citizens, Andrew Bagshaw and Chris Parry, left the city of Kramatorsk at 8am on January 6 and headed east towards the front lines of Ukraine’s war with Russia, Ukrainian police said. rice field.
Aid workers familiar with the matter said their task was to evacuate an elderly woman from the small town of Soledar, where Russian and Ukrainian forces had been fighting fiercely.
They never returned.
By Tuesday, the Parry family confirmed in a statement issued through the UK Foreign Office that “our beloved Chrissy” and Mr Bagshawe had been killed “while attempting a humanitarian evacuation of Soledar”. Questions remained about their fate.
“His selfless determination to help the old, young and disadvantaged makes us and his larger family extremely proud,” the statement said.
Mr Bagshaw’s parents said at a press conference that the man’s car was believed to have been hit by an artillery shell but an investigation was ongoing. “I was very proud.”
Bagshawe, 47, and Parry, 28, were part of a special cohort of foreigners with little or no combat experience who helped evacuate civilians from the front lines, according to acquaintances. . Some of Parry and Bagshaw’s evacuations were documented by journalists, including Arnaud Dedecker. A video of Mr. Parry from Bahamut A few days before he disappeared.
Their deaths face people whose jobs have become a lifeline in Donbass, where many Ukrainians are trapped in some of the worst war zones seen in Europe since World War II. It was a stark reminder of the danger.
On January 6, the two men “went to a really dangerous address,” said Grzegorz Rybak, a fellow foreign volunteer who worked with the two and lived with Bagshaw for two weeks in Kramatorsk. “And they never came back.”
PMC Wagner, a notorious mercenary group fighting for Russia, claimed to have found one of the man’s remains a week after his disappearance. The group posted a picture of what they believed to be a passport on Telegram, along with a certificate proving Mr. Parry was a volunteer for the Pavlo Vishnyakov Foundation. group. The foundation declined to comment.
Wagner’s claims could not be confirmed at the time, and Russian state media later claimed, without evidence, that they were mercenaries.
The war in Ukraine is a humanitarian issue. Humanitarian policy analyst Abby Stoddard said the situation in some areas was too dangerous for residents to stay and many international organizations were unable to allow staff to enter. increase.
As such, some of the highest risk evacuations are being carried out by independent volunteers. “In other words, volunteers with the fewest resources to keep people safe.”
US veteran Brian Stern, who co-founded the Humanitarian Relief Effort, described frontline evacuation efforts in Ukraine as “free for everyone.” Foreign volunteers came to Ukraine with good intentions, but most “don’t know what they’re doing,” he said.
“That’s why this is a sad story,” he said.
According to his family, Parry was a software engineer who wanted to travel the world.
In early January, he told his hometown of Cornwall, the BBC broadcaster, that he “knew nothing” about Ukraine before the invasion, but was “crazed” to help. He had intended to enlist as a foreign combatant, but since he had no combat experience, he bought a van instead and began working as an evacuation driver last March.
Posting on Instagram days after his arrival, Parry wrote that he felt uneasy about planning a trip to Kharkov.
Mr Bagshawe is a genetics researcher in the UK who was away on business last spring in Christchurch, New Zealand, but when he decided to go to Ukraine, a photojournalist who met him told The New Zealand Herald in October. His family told reporters they believed it was “the morally right thing to do.”
According to Rybak, who served as a volunteer interpreter, the makeshift activities were carried out mainly by Kramatorsk’s small English-speaking community. He didn’t speak Mr. Parry, Mr. Bagshaw, Ukrainian or Russian, he said.
Ukrainians contacted local aid workers about their relatives near Bakhmut, Rybak said, and their addresses were passed on to volunteers, who then sent them to evacuate them, often in donated cars or crowds. I evacuated them in a funding car. Rybak said the movement was unpredictable, with addresses sometimes being vacant and residents resisting evacuation.
The man had plans for the postwar period. Mr. Parry had a partner he wanted to marry, Ribach recalled, and Mr. Bagshaw wanted to continue his scientific career.
“They wanted to live,” he said.
Thomas Gibbons Neff contributed to the report.