Entrepreneur Stefan Allesch-Taylor was previously a director on Meghan and Harry’s Sussex Royal charitable foundation and is now helping coordinate rescue missions to help children in Ukraine
Image: Stefan Allesch-Taylor)
The devastating photographs of Ukraine have left the world speechless – as they capture the heartbreaking reality of Putin’s war.
Millions have already fled the country – while others stayed behind, either because they were conscripted, or couldn’t leave. This includes the 200,000 orphaned children of Ukraine – who lived in 700 homes across the country when Putin invaded.
Their lives have been torn apart, as the constant shelling from Russian forces and cut-offs to food, water and medication leave them in danger.
Now a crack team of experts are working with the Ukrainian government and children’s services to ensure no child is left behind.
Importantly, they are also making sure that all are accounted for – as charities warn that human trafficking and sexual exploitation is on the rise.
Among them is entrepreneur Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE, who worked for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Sussex Royal charitable foundation before they closed it down to move to the US.
He is now heading up Aerial Recovery United Kingdom, helping coordinate the evacuation of hundreds of orphans.
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Allesch-Taylor, 52, who is also a university professor and a coffee tycoon, was awarded a CBE in 2014 for philanthropic and charitable services in the UK and Africa.
Speaking to The Mirror from Ukraine, he said: “Capacity is increasing daily as children are being evacuated from east ( the heart of Russia’s military invasion) to the west.
“The threat to the kids is multiple. If they’re in areas that are being shelled, then they are in danger for a variety of reasons that are obvious to everybody.
“However, if they spend time in shelters, as they are which is invariably the foundation of a very old building that’s invariably filthy and damp, and not somewhere you’d want to spend any time.
“So you’ve got the threat of infection and illness as a result of being in those environments.
“And if they’re not evacuated under the supervision of the government, then it is possible, you could lose track of these kids, which, of course, is another threat.
“There are no circumstances in which Aerial Recovery acts without the authority of the Ukrainian government. It’s an extremely important part of the mandate that was put in place by Jeremy Locke, the minute he got here
He is working alongside Jeremy Locke, a retired Army Green Beret, who heads up Aerial Recovery Group.
He leads a team of battle-tested US veterans who brave cruise missile strikes and artillery barrages to evacuate the children.
In cases where they are virtually cut off by Russian checkpoints, they will bring them medical and food supplies.
In an appeal to Brits who might be able to help, Allesch-Taylor said anyone with funding or ideas for support should email the company.
He said: “I’m interested in those people who’ve got access to medicines or might be former military and have skills in areas like this.
“The more volunteers we have who are competent, the better.
“Anyone who has their own ideas about how they can contribute should get in touch.”
Since the beginning of the war in February, more than 4.2 million Ukrainians have fled the country, according to the UN.
Women and children account for nine out of ten refugees because men between the ages of 18 and 60 have been told to stay in Ukraine to fight.
It follows warnings that traffickers are targeting orphans on the Ukraine-Poland border – with fears that unaccounted kids could slip through the gaps.
Children in the country are in desperate need of rescue and medical care, with thousands trapped either behind, or in the path of Russian military advances and shelling.
Some have become stuck in blocked areas, in desperate situations with no access to food, medicine, water, or sanitation.
UNICEF estimates that over 100,000 children live in orphanages or institutional homes in Ukraine.
“These children are some of the most vulnerable in Ukraine and face a heightened risk of trafficking, abuse, and other forms of exploitation” said Irina Saghoyan, Eastern European Director of Save The Children warned last week.
Now Stefan has helped supply medical equipment, transport vehicles, and drivers, to the organization’s forward rescue teams who bravely go into hostile scenes to evacuate children.
He was previously a director on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Sussex Royal charitable foundation before it was disbanded after the Royals left the UK.
He hit the headlines after it emerged he used to keep a tank of piranhas in his office when he was a stockbroker.
Speaking about the couple, who now live in Los Angeles, he said they had no idea he was in Ukraine.
He said: “I’m sure they’ll be sending me Whatsapp messages of support when they know I am.”