Two British nationals, Andrew Bagshaw and Chris Barry, left the city of Kramatorsk at 8am on January 6 and headed east towards Ukraine’s front line with Russia, Ukrainian police said.
Their mission was to evacuate an elderly woman in Soledar, a small town where Russian and Ukrainian forces were fighting a brutal battle, according to an aid worker familiar with the matter.
They never returned.
Questions about their fate lingered until Tuesday, when Mr. Barry’s family said in a statement released by the British Foreign Office that “our dear Chrissy” and Mr. Bagshaw confirmed that they were “killed while trying to humanely evacuate them from Solatar”.
“His selfless commitment to helping the elderly, the young and the underprivileged out there has made us and his extended family very proud,” the statement said.
The men’s vehicle is believed to have been hit by artillery fire, although investigations are ongoing, Mr. Paksha’s parents said at a place. News conference. They feared such a decision, but said they were “very proud” of his work.
Mr. Bagshaw, 47, and Mr. Barry, 28, was part of an ad hoc group of foreigners with no combat experience who helped evacuate civilians from the front lines, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Barry and Mr. Paksha’s many exodus Documented By Journalistsincluding Arnaud De Decker, who shared Mr. in Pakmut. Barry’s views A few days before he disappeared.
Their deaths are a stark reminder of the danger faced by those whose work has become a lifeline in the Donbass, where many Ukrainians are trapped in one of the worst war zones Europe has seen since World War II.
January. 6, the two “went to a very dangerous address,” said Kreskors Rybak, who worked with both and Mr. A fellow foreign volunteer who lived with Paksha in Gramadorsk for two weeks. “They never came back.”
PMC Wagner, a notorious mercenary fighting on behalf of Russia, claimed to have found one of the men’s bodies a week after they disappeared. Mr. Vaishniakov is a volunteer at the Pavlo Vyshnyakov Foundation, a Kyiv-based charity that sends resources including food and medical supplies to civilians, hospitals and the military. The team posted photos of their passports on Telegram along with a certificate identifying Barry. groups. The trust declined to comment.
Wagner’s claim could not be verified at the time, and Russian state media claimed, without evidence, that they were mercenaries.
The war in Ukraine is a humanitarian problem. Conditions in some areas are too dangerous for residents to stay, or many international organizations allow their staff to enter, said Abby Stoddart, a humanitarian policy analyst.
So some dangerous evacuations are carried out by independent volunteers – “in other words, people with limited resources to keep people safe,” Ms Stoddard said.
Brian Stern is an American actor who co-founded a humanitarian Rescue operation, described front-line evacuation efforts in Ukraine as a “free-for-all.” While foreign volunteers come to Ukraine with good intentions, most “don’t know what they’re doing,” he said.
“That’s why it’s such a sad story,” he said.
Mr. Barry was a software engineer who loved to travel the world, his family said.
In early January, he said A local BBC station In Cornwall, where he grew up, he “knew nothing” about Ukraine before the invasion but was “obsessed” with helping. He intended to join the foreign fighters but, lacking combat experience, bought a van instead and began working as an evacuation driver last March.
On Instagram Mail A few days after his arrival, Mr. Barry wrote that he was afraid of a planned trip to Kharkiv because “everyone I spoke to believed there was a very strong possibility that I would die.”
Mr. Bagshaw was a British geneticist who was between jobs in Christchurch, New Zealand, last spring when he decided to visit Ukraine, wrote a photojournalist who met him. New Zealand Herald In October. His family told reporters he believed it was “the morally right thing to do.”
Mr. translated for the volunteers. Rybak said their temporary operation was largely carried out by a small English-speaking community in Gramadorsk. Mr. Barrio or Mr. He said Pakshao did not speak Ukrainian or Russian.
Ukrainians would contact local aid workers about relatives near Bagmut, and their addresses would be passed on to volunteers who would drive into the conflict zone to evacuate them, often in donated or crowd-funded vehicles. Trips are unpredictable, Mr. Rybak said, sometimes the addresses are empty or residents are resisting moving out.
After the war the men had plans. Mr. Barry has a partner to marry, Mr. Rybak recalled, and Mr. Bagshaw wanted to continue his scientific career.
“They wanted to live,” he said.
Thomas Gibbons-Neff Contributed report.