Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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British aid volunteers missing in Ukraine war zone

Tuesday 10/January/2023 - 04:29 PM
The Reference

Two British aid volunteers have been reported missing in eastern Ukraine, raising fears for their safety.

Andrew Bagshaw, 48, and Christopher Parry, 28, were working to evacuate civilians from the war zone, sometimes under shell fire.

Ukrainian police said the pair left the city of Kramatorsk for Soledar, 25 miles away, at 8am on Friday but had not made contact since.

There has been heavy fighting in the area in recent weeks as Russian forces attempt to seize Soledar and the nearby city of Bakhmut in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Parry, a former coach at Cheltenham Running Club who is originally from Cornwall, told CornwallLive in November that he had joined an NGO in March that drove into conflict areas to retrieve endangered civilians.

 “People really instilled the fear of God in me that I was going to die,” he said. “I was shown vans that had bullet holes in them. I was heading into a place that everyone was fleeing.”

Last month, Parry told Sky News that the 4x4 he was using was written off after it was hit by a Russian tank round while he was driving.

He said that operating from a position 400 metres from the front in Bakhmut, he had evacuated about 30 people within three weeks of getting the vehicle, which was funded by online donors.

“I am willing to go to the places that a lot of people aren’t,” he added.

In a recent Instagram post Parry said that he was “running the gauntlet to find an elderly couple who got lost on the front”.

Bagshaw, a geneticist from Christchurch in New Zealand who has British citizenship, was also working as part of a team of local and international volunteers evacuating civilians from near the front, especially around Soledar.

“The closer you get to the east, the worse it gets,” he told Stuff in August. “There’s just massive destruction basically. Every building is damaged to some extent, windows blown out or demolished.”

Christopher Monaghan, a former British soldier who had worked with Bagshaw in Ukraine, said that his disappearance was “horrendous news”.

Bagshaw’s parents, Philip and Susan Bagshaw, said in a statement to New Zealand media: “Andrew is a very intelligent, independently minded person, who went there as a volunteer to assist the people of Ukraine, believing it to be the morally right thing to do.”

Russian state media described the men as “mercenaries”.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are supporting the families of two British men who have gone missing in Ukraine.”