1 of 2 | Emma Igual, director of Road to Relief, was killed Sunday in Ukraine in a Russian attack. Photo courtesy of Ukraine Foreign Ministry
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Two front-line foreign aid workers were killed over the weekend when the vehicle they were riding in came under Russian attack in eastern Ukraine.
The Road to Relief humanitarian organization said in a statement the attack occurred at around 10 a.m. Sunday as its team of four was traveling from Slovyansk toward Bakhmut to assess civilians caught in crossfire in the town of Ivanivske in Russia-occupied Donetsk Oblast.
Their vehicle was hit by Russian shelling that caused it to flip over and catch fire, it said.
The organization confirmed that Canadian Anthony "Tonko" Ihnat was killed while the Spanish government confirmed that Road to Relief director Emma Igual also died in the attack.
Road to Relief said German Ruben Mawick and Swede Johan Mathias Thyr were "badly injured with shrapnel wounds and burns" but are in stable condition at separate hospitals far from the battlefield.
Ukraine's Ministry of Defense also confirmed the deaths of the two aid workers.
"Road2Relief's efforts are entirely focused on civilian projects: the evacuation of civilians in war zones, medical evacuation, humanitarian aid distribution to frontline communities and the provision of mobile clinics that assist local residents who are unable to leave their homes," it said in a statement. "They make every effort every day to mitigate the consequences of the systematic terror of civilians by the Russian occupiers.
"A painful, irreparable loss. Emma and Anthony will forever be in our hearts."
Following the announcement of their deaths, other aid organizations in Ukraine extended their condolences.
UAnimials, which is working to save animals in Ukraine, said in a statement that it has at least twice before worked with Road to Relief and that Igual had helped them with the evacuation of a rescued goat named Snizhka that had been taken from the military in Donetsk region.
"Her organization was not aimed at helping animals, but she believed that she had to save everyone," it said.
Paracrew Humanitarian Aid, which aids those affected by natural disasters and war, said Ihnat was a former member and that it had received news of his "tragic death."
"He has done great work for Paracrew/Mission Ukraine," it said on Facebook. "His compassion, empathy and strength will forever be an inspiration to all of us. And we will keep his memory alive by working on to help Ukraine in every possible way. Rest in peace, dear friend."
The attack comes days after the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an update that more than 100 security incidents have hampered aid operations in Ukraine this year, particularly in areas under control of the Russian military.
It said that prior to the deaths of Ihnat and Igual there had been at least six aid workers killed and 16 injured in Ukraine so far this year, which is significantly higher than the four killed in all of 2022.