Who were the seven aid workers killed in Gaza?

WCK has hailed them as heroes.

04 Apr 2024 08:26am
One of the bodies of staff members of the US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, is transported out of a hospital morgue in Rafah. Photo by Said Khatib/AFP
One of the bodies of staff members of the US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, is transported out of a hospital morgue in Rafah. Photo by Said Khatib/AFP

PARIS - Here's what we know so far about the seven aid workers for the US charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza.

Six were foreigners whose bodies are being repatriated Tueday.

The sole Palestinian among them was buried in his hometown of Rafah.

WCK has hailed them as "heroes".

- Lalzawmi Frankcom, Australia -

Frankcom, 43, was from Melbourne, Australia and had worked for the relief team at the charity, which cooks for people in disaster or conflict zones, for five years.

In recent years she had worked in earthquake-hit Morocco, the Bahamas after a devastating hurricane, and in her home country ravaged by forest fires.

Her family in a statement said the woman known as "Zomi" had died "doing the work she loves".

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WCK colleague Dora Weekley described her as "larger than life" and "huge-hearted".

In a video from the warehouse-cum-kitchen in central Gaza which she and her colleagues were leaving when they were killed, she beamed as she showed off colleagues preparing a meal of aromatic rice for people in need.

Frankcom studied psychological science at Melbourne's Swinburne University of Technology.

Before joining WCK she had worked at the Commonwealth Bank for more than eight years.

When a documentary on WCK directed by Ron Howard was nominated for an Emmy, Frankcom walked the red carpet in Hollywood.

- Damian Sobol, Poland -

The 35-year-old relief worker from Przemysl in south-eastern Poland, not far from the border with Ukraine, was described as a "fantastic young man" by the city's mayor Wojciech Bakun.

He joined WCK in 2022 in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, working first as translator, then coordinator for the NGO which was serving up meals to Ukrainians fleeing the fighting within hours of Russia's invasion.

Before joining the mission in Gaza, Sobol had also participated in aid missions inside Ukraine, from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, scene of alleged Russian war crimes, to the war-scarred eastern city of Kharkiv.

He was in Turkey last year to help victims of the massive earthquake, then went to Morocco following the violent quake of September.

- Jacob Flickinger, US-Canada -

A dual US-Canadian citizen, Flickinger, 33, was also part of the relief team.

Little is known about the father of a year-old baby boy, who had been working in Gaza since the start of March after a previous stint as a volunteer for the NGO in Mexico.

Canada's Foreign Minister Melanie Joly wrote on X that she was "horrified" by the deaths of the seven WCK employees, "including a Canadian citizen."

- Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, Gaza -

The Palestinian 25-year-old was working as a driver and interpreter for WCK when he died in the strike.

He was buried in a ceremony attended by hundreds of people in his hometown of Rafah on Tuesday.

"He was happy to work with an organisation that provides humanitarian aid to the displaced, our hearts are broken by your death, Saif," said his close friend, interviewed by the BBC.

- John Chapman, Britain -

Chapman, 57, was one of three Britons who were killed in the strike. All were part of WCK's security team.

According to British media, all three were former soldiers in the British military, and worked as private security contractors for the firm Solace Global.

Chapman, a former special forces operative, was a married father-of-two and had been in Gaza for a few weeks, British media reported.

He had joined the military directly out of school.

"He was an incredible father, husband, son and brother," his family said in a statement, calling him a "hero".

- James Henderson, Britain -

The 33-year-old Briton known to all as Jim had served for six years in the British Marines, according to his LinkedIn page.

He left the navy in 2016.

On his LinkedIn page he described himself as "a highly disciplined, courteous and proactive individual."

- James Kirby, Britain -

From Bristol in southwest England, Kirby, 47, a former sniper marksman and rifleman had served tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

The family in a statement said they were "utterly heartbroken".

"A genuine gentleman, James was always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone, even in the face of senseless violence," his family said.

"Despite the risks, his compassionate nature drove him to offer assistance to those in dire need." - AFP