Volunteers delivering supplies from Alberta in Ukraine killed in Russian attack: organizers

Volunteer drivers rushing needed donated supplies to Ukrainian forces were killed in a Russian attack, a campaign organizer said on Saturday.

Thomas Lukaszuk, former deputy premier of Alberta and an organizer of the massive United For Ukraine donation drive in Edmonton, said on social media that two volunteers driving supplies to Mariupol, Ukraine, were killed.

“Ed Stelmach and I are saddened and angered having to inform you that two drivers, believed to be Ukrainian and Polish nationals, were killed by Russians while delivering some of our United for Ukraine supplies,” Lukaszuk said. “They are heroes.”

Stelmach, a former Alberta premier, and Lukaszuk spearheaded a fill-a-plane drive that collected more than $20 million in donations, including 35 tonnes of aid flown on a donated LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Some supplies included medical and first aid equipment, stretchers, thermal blankets, sleeping bags, adult and youth diapers, and wheelchairs. Whatever donated material did not fit on the 737 was loaded into 10 sea containers to be delivered to Poland and then taken by drivers to Ukrainian forces.

Lukaszuk says supplies were sent to the Lutz, Zhytomyr, Kryvy Rigg, Kherson and Mariupol regions of Ukraine.

In an interview with CTV News Edmonton on Sunday, Lukaszuk confirmed that the drivers were carrying packages of donated goods from Edmonton.

“Unfortunately, a couple of days ago now, one of the vehicles that was delivering one of the smaller loads was intercepted by Russians and there were three individuals in that vehicle,” Lukaszuk said. “One luckily has managed to escape, and two were killed.”

“They were in a heavily occupied Russian area,” he said, adding that he would not disclose the exact location where the drivers were intercepted for safety reasons.

“We don’t want to put volunteers anywhere in Ukraine in any additional danger.”

Lukaszuk said that while Albertans volunteering to gather supplies or package shipments are lucky to help out, the actions “pale in comparison” to what Ukrainians on the ground are doing.

“These people are really driving across the country for freedom,” he said. “They are delivering medical goods, food, and other items to save soldiers and people who have been wounded and people who are starving.

“They’re superheroes,” he added. “They take this on knowing what the risk is, but that’s how important freedom and independence of Ukraine and opposition to this aggression is.”

Located on the coast of the Sea of Azov, the port city of Mariupol has been under siege for the past month, including extensive Russian bombardment.

On Saturday, Ukrainian forces fought village by village to hold back the Russian advance through the country’s east as the United Nations tried to broker a civilian evacuation of the bombed-out city.

“Russia intercepts our delivery in Ukraine, we double down,” Lukaszuk said. “Our hero volunteers’ lives were not lost in vain. More help is on its way.”

With files from The Associated Press

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