Mum of Manchester aid worker ‘living worst nightmare’ after son ‘captured by Russian forces in Ukraine’

The mother of an aid worker thought to be from Manchester has said she is living her ‘worst nightmare’ after her son was reportedly captured by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Linda Urey told Sky News from her home in Preston, Lancashire, that she had “begged” her son Paul Urey not to return to the war-torn country last week. She said he had returned to Ukraine about a week-and-a-half ago after he’d come home for leave.

Non-profit group The Presidium Network said Paul and another humanitarian aid volunteer, Dylan Healey were captured on Monday morning (April 25) at a checkpoint south of the city of Zaporizhzhia in south-eastern Ukraine.

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According to the PA News Agency, Mr Urey was born in 1977 and is from Manchester and Mr Healey was born in 2000 and is from Cambridgeshire. Mr Urey is said to have Type 1 Diabetes and requires daily insulin.

The pair were not working for the Presidium Network, which helps to get aid into Kyiv, but the organization said the pair were driving to help a woman and two children to evacuate when they went missing.

Ms Urey said she had begged her son not to return to Ukraine and said she last spoke to him in the early hours of Monday morning. “I begged him not to because … Russia’s bad,” she told Sky News.



Linda Urey

“I was on FaceTime with him up to 4am on Monday morning and that was it – gone.” Asked how she was feeling, she said: “Like I want to die, like I do not know what to do any more. I do not know. It’s horrible.”

Ms Urey went on to describe her son as “too caring” and “too kind”, adding he usually messages and FaceTimes her several times a day. She said: “Something’s wrong – they’ve got him, definitely. He would contact me if he could and he can not.”

Dominik Byrne, one of the founders of the Presidium Network, told the PA news agency: “Basically what needs to be done is two things – we need to put pressure on the Government to take this case seriously, and try, through their networks to verify this, but also to kind of help us find these people.

“But also because I know diplomatic channels are completely broken down, we use these tactics to find people by having it very public and putting pressure publicly on Russia to determine that they have got these two people and that they’re safe and well. And we want to tell the Russians basically that these aren’t spies. These aren’t military people. These are just humanitarian workers who got caught in a bad situation. “

He said the men were mostly helping with the distribution of medical aid and also helping with evacuations. An earlier statement from Ms Urey released by the organization, said Mr Urey has Type 1 diabetes and needs insulin.

Ms Urey said: “My family and I are extremely worried. We know my son Paul and his friend who was a humanitarian aid volunteer in Ukraine have been captured by the Russians.

“He was out there on his own accord. We want everyone’s support to bring my son home and pray he is safe. My son Paul is also Type 1 diabetic and needs his insulin. We have asked the Presidium Network to help us and also the FCDO to help as well. We pray for him and hope he is safe. “

The Foreign Office said earlier that it is urgently seeking more information following the reports of British nationals being detained in Ukraine.

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