First Egyptian casualty in Ukraine killed in Mariupol shelling

Zeinab El-Gundy , Sunday 27 Mar 2022

Egyptian citizen Yahia Hassan Yahia Hamed — a man that was reportedly in his thirties — was killed earlier in March amid the Russian shelling of the encircled city of Mariupol, becoming the first Egyptian citizen to die in Ukraine due to the ongoing Russian invasion of the country.

Yahia Hamed,

Hamed, who was taking refuge in a shelter in the battered Ukrainian city along with his wife and mother-in-law, died immediately when a bomb landed next to him while he was buying food for his family on 15 March, a diplomatic source told media, adding that his death was confirmed more than a week later on Saturday 26 March.

Hamed hailed from the northern Egyptian city of Mit Ghamr.

Head of the Egyptian community in Ukraine Ali Farouk told Ahram Online via mobile phone that the community found out about the death of Hamed when his family reached out to the Egyptian embassy and the community in an attempt to find him after failing to reach him following the Russian invasion in late February.

According to Farouk, Hamed was not a resident of Ukraine, but he used to own a shop in Sharm El-Sheikh and was married to a Ukrainian woman — a native of Mariupol — and had a child with her.

“We did not know him because he was not a resident of Ukraine, he came to visit his wife and child in Mariupol in early February but then the war broke out and he got stuck here,” Farouk said, adding that telecommunications to and from Mariupol were down ever since it has been under heavy Russian attack.

After a long search, members of the Egyptian community in Ukraine who chose to remain in the country managed to reach Hamed’s wife, and earlier on Saturday, she informed them that her Egyptian husband died during the shelling of the city  a week prior.

She added that he was buried in Mariupol.

According to Matilda Bogner — the head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine — on Friday, since Russian armed forces launched their offensive on 24 February, at least 1,035 civilians have been killed and at least 1,650 injured in Ukraine.

Bogner added that the death and inured tolls are much higher in locations that have intense fighting like Mariupol.

A week ago, Ukrainian authorities in Mariupol estimated that at least 2,300 civilians died in the previous three weeks. Human Rights Watch estimates that there are more than 200,000 civilians still trapped in the besieged city.

Egypt has been pushing forward with efforts to bring its nationals home from Ukraine. Prior to the Russian invasion, around 6,000 Egyptians lived in Ukraine, including 3,000 students studying at the country’s universities, especially in the field of medicine.

Over the past three weeks, scores of Egyptian expats have already crossed the borders into Romania, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. 

On Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy the need to prioritise dialogue and diplomatic solutions to settle the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

Earlier in March, Egypt was among the 141 countries that voted for a UN resolution at the General Assembly calling for a halt to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and an immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from its western neighbour.

Egypt also called at the General Assembly for a quick political solution to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis through peaceful means, warning of the impact of the crisis on the fragile global economy.

El-Sisi also voiced in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin Egypt’s readiness to support any diplomatic endeavours that would facilitate reaching a political settlement between Russia and Ukraine to end the conflict and preserve international security and stability. 

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