Sunday Feb 05, 2023

Australian ‘larrikin’ killed on humanitarian mission in Ukraine

An Australian man has died while providing humanitarian aid in war-torn Ukraine, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed.

Michael O’Neill, 47, was killed on Wednesday, leaving behind three children as well as five siblings.

“This is a tragedy and I want to give my condolences to the family of the man involved,” Mr Albanese said in Sydney on Saturday.

“The family has requested that their privacy be respected and I ask the media to do that.”

In a public post on Facebook, one of Mr O’Neill’s sisters said the Tasmanian man had been driving trucks in Ukraine to help civilians flee the country as well as transporting the wounded.

She described her brother as a “larrikin” and “always a battler” who “assisted driving the wounded and injured from the front line” and was “Always looking for a cause”.

“Unfortunately meeting a sad end, Mick had spent the last few years driving trucks in the mining industry and [spent] months in the Philippines with his children,” the tribute post read.

Albanese denounces Russian atrocities

The Hobart Mercury carried a death notice for Mr O’Neill, who left behind five brothers and sisters.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, with allegations of war crimes made against the federation’s troops since the invasion.

During his trip to the Quad leaders’ meeting on Tuesday, Mr Albanese said he had expressed Australia’s view that the Russian “unilateral, illegal, immoral attack” on the people of Ukraine was an “outrage”.

“The atrocities which are being committed on innocent civilians is something that we couldn’t have expected in the 21st century,” he told reporters after the meeting.

Earlier this month, then-foreign minister Marise Payne announced further sanctions on high-profile Russians, including media personalities and military higher-ups.

-with AAP

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