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B.C. doctor who worked with Canadian aid worker killed in Ukraine calls for federal denouncement of attack

Click to play video: 'Calls to protect aid workers after Canadian killed in Ukraine'
Calls to protect aid workers after Canadian killed in Ukraine
WATCH: A B.C. doctor, a friend and colleague of a Canadian volunteer killed last week in Ukraine, is calling on the federal government to help protect other volunteers from becoming targets. Cassidy Mosconi reports. – Sep 14, 2023

A B.C. doctor who has made six trips to Ukraine since the start of the war is calling on the Canadian government to denounce the attack that killed a Canadian aid worker.

Dr. Tracey Parnell, of Cranbrook, said the worker was a colleague, adding the Russian attack that killed Anthony “Tonko” Ihnat was a deliberate targeting of humanitarian workers.

“We all know this work is very dangerous, but this was a targeted attack on a humanitarian vehicle with humanitarian aid workers,” Dr. Parnell told Global News. “To know the workers were targeted because they were helping people is very hard to process … being in the wrong place at the wrong time is very different than targeting those who are helping people.”

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Russia’s war in Ukraine: Zelenskyy condemns deadly market attack as ‘deliberate’

Inhat was killed riding in a vehicle with three others in the town of Ivanivske, in the Bakmut region, when their vehicle was hit by Russian fire, last weekend.

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The workers were part of the humanitarian group Road to Relief, who confirmed Ihnat was killed on a social media post.

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The post says German medical volunteer Ruben Mawick and Swedish volunteer Johan Mathias Thyr were badly injured and hospitalized, while the status of Spanish volunteer and Road to Relief Director Emma Igual remains unknown.

However, Spain’s acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told Spanish media that authorities in Madrid had received “verbal confirmation” of the 32-year-old Igual’s death.

The Cranbrook doctor said she worked with both Ihnat and Igual while in Ukraine.

“Emma was a force to be reckoned with. She was very outgoing, very driven and very compassionate. She had an incredibly soft heart. We worked quite closely for a long time. She will be greatly missed,” Parnell said. “Tonko I didn’t know as much as I did Emma but he always had a grin on his face, always laid back and willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. He was a really good person who gave up literally everything to go help people in such desperate need. His loss will be felt significantly.”

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Children in Kharkiv, Ukraine going to school in underground classrooms

Dr. Parnell said although it is extremely scary and upsetting that humanitarian workers were targeted and killed, she will not stop going to help those in need.

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“(The Russians) deliberately used an anti-tank, guided missile. It’s horrifying and it’s not the first time. I hope the international community speaks out about this,” she said. “I certainly don’t want to inflict (grief) on my own family, but I also see all the broken families there, and the hell they are going through, and I know I can help. I am willing to take that risk but I am not keen on being targeted when I am there.”

Parnell said the Canadian government needs to be vocal and condemn the attack.

Global News has reached out to the federal government for comment.

— with files from Canadian Press

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