“The volunteers are heroes. They know what risk they’re facing, making those deliveries. They’re literally saving lives by making those deliveries”

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Former MLA Thomas Lukaszuk says two volunteers in Ukraine helping deliver donations from Alberta were killed during their journey this week.

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Lukaszuk, together with former premier Ed Stelmach, has been helping raise funds and purchase relief supplies for Ukrainians amid Russia’s invasion of their country. He wrote on social media Saturday that two drivers, believed to be Polish and Ukrainian nationals, had been killed trying to deliver supplies near Mariupol.

The port city of Mariupol is almost entirely occupied by Russian forces, and many Ukrainian civilians have been trapped there in desperate conditions after several failed attempts to set up a humanitarian evacuation corridor. The city suffered heavy shelling in recent days.

Lukaszuk said, in an interview Saturday, that he heard from the network of people helping to coordinate the deliveries the drivers were killed in a bomb attack. He said the deaths happened sometime Friday, and he learned of them Friday night.

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“It’s a direct connection to us in Edmonton. When we were collecting goods at the Polish Hall for two days and our volunteers were packing them in a warehouse, those were the boxes,” he said.

“Those were boxes that were packed here, with care, that got intercepted.”

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Lukaszuk said there are details he can’t publicly discuss for the sake of the safety of Ukrainian volunteers but they typically give updates when supplies are successfully delivered, which has been the case up until now.

“The volunteers are heroes. They know what risk they’re facing, making those deliveries. They’re literally saving lives by making those deliveries.”

So far, Lukaszuk and Stelmach have been able to arrange to fill a passenger plane with medical supplies and other equipment for Ukraine, and three full-sized sea cans with goods have also been shipped to Europe from Canada.

More will be on the way soon, but Lukaszuk said efforts are mostly focused on fundraising to purchase supplies in Europe rather than shipping them from here.

“This won’t slow the effort down on this side of the ocean,” he said.

“I think the volunteers on the other side are that much more determined to continue doing what they’re doing.”

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[email protected]

Twitter: @meksmith

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