Parents talk of fears after British humanitarian volunteers vanish in Ukraine

Missing: Christopher Parry and Andrew Bagshaw (ES Composite)
Missing: Christopher Parry and Andrew Bagshaw (ES Composite)

The family of a 28-year-old who is one of two British voluntary workers missing in east Ukraine have expressed concerns for his health and whereabouts.

In a statement released by Britain’s foreign office on Tuesday evening, family of Chris Parry said they are “very worried”, and described him as “an extraordinary person”.

Mr Parry and Andrew Bagshaw, 48 - both helping with civilian evacuation and humanitarian efforts in the war-torn Donetsk region - were reported missing by the area’s police department at the weekend.

“We are very worried and concerned about the health and whereabouts of Chris right now,” said Mr Parry’s family on Tuesday evening.

“He is an extraordinary person who is compassionate and caring and would not be dissuaded from his work in Ukraine liberating elderly and disabled people.”

The missing volunteers were last seen leaving Kramatorsk for the embattled city of Soledar at 8am on Friday, and contact was then lost.

Mr Parry’s mother Christine told Mail Online earlier on Tuesday: “It’s all very raw at the moment. We are just trying to inform family members about what is going on.”

His father Robin added: “We are all very proud of Chris and the work he has been doing.”

Mr Parry, from Cheltenham, worked as a running coach before he left for Ukraine in March, a month after Russia launched its full scale invasion.

In December he described the “hellish” conditions and working under constant threat of death.

He told Sky News: “I went to a military command unit and spoke to a number of soldiers who described Bakhmut as the ‘worst place they had ever been’. They were saying ‘this isn’t war, this is hell’.”

Mr Bagshaw, who was born in the UK but lived in New Zealand, also moved to Ukraine in March to assist in delivering humanitarian aid.#

A statement from his parents released yesterday morning said: “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.

“Andrew’s parents love him dearly and are immensely proud of all the work he has been doing delivering food and medicines and assisting elderly people move from near the battlefront.”

It comes as British defence chiefs said Vladimir Putin’s forces are likely to have seized control of most of Soledar as they battle for access to 200km-long disused salt mine tunnels.

They believe that the Russian military and Putin’s “private army”, the Wagner Group, have succeeded in “tactical advances” in region.

However, they also stressed that Russian forces are “unlikely” to be able to “imminently” capture the key town of Bakhmut as Ukrainian soldiers are so well dug in to defend it.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “In the last four days, Russian and Wagner forces have made tactical advances into the small Donbas town of Soledar and are likely in control of most of the settlement.

“Soledar is 10km (6.2 miles) north of Bakhmut, the capture of which likely continues to be Russia’s main immediate operational objective.

“Russia’s Soledar axis is highly likely an effort to envelop Bakhmut from the north, and to disrupt Ukrainian lines of communication.”