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Tribute to Marla Ruzicka and the Nameless Aidworkers Around the World

When Marla Ruzicka got killed in Bagdad on April 16, 2005, many US newspapers had long and impressive obituaries about the founder of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), who convinced Congress to create an Iraqi War Victims Fund.

Rolling Stone Magazine described her as a "youthful representative of a certain kind of not-yet-lost American idealism" in a good, balanced and heart-wrenching biographic article. The Boston Globe wrote:

Virtually alone, she directed attention and resources to the invisible victims of war. She moved the military without using force, galvanized official Washington without powerful connections, and motivated the press without sensationalism.

Four years later not a single newspaper reminds us of her untimely death, according to Google News, even though CIVIC is still very active around the world and blogs as well.

Unfortunately, the media does not write much about the many relief workers in war and natural disaster zones around the world. The nameless humanitarians, who don't just talk and write, but risk their lives to help others don't get awards or much press coverage. Their sacrifice is often only acknowledged, when they get killed or as a statistic, like earlier this month, when several media outlets covered the new report from the Overseas Development Institute (pdf), which states that 2008 was the most dangerous year on record for humanitarian aid workers:

Last year 260 humanitarian aid workers were killed, kidnapped or seriously injured in violent attacks - the highest annual toll on record. Kidnappings have increased 350% since 2006 and the fatality rate of aid workers from malicious acts surpassed that of United Nations peacekeeping soldiers in 2008.

More about Marla Ruzicka's accomplishments in these Atlantic Review posts:

Tribute to Marla Ruzicka and other Idealists Risking their Lives out there 

"Sweet Relief" - A New Book about Humanitarian Activist Marla Ruzicka 

Marla Ruzicka: Civilian Victims of War

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John in Michigan, USA on :

Wow! AR is currently the top search result for "[url=http://www.google.com/search?q=Marla+Ruzicka]Marla Ruzicka[/url]". I admire her in spite of her association with the propagandist Medea Benjamin (Code Pink). I hope this post prompts more coverage of this anniversary. There's a [url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0485287/]movie[/url] due out this year, so that will help. The cynical part of me wonders if perhaps all the groups that would normally publicize this anniversary, have been contacted by the studio. Perhaps the studio, concerned about compassion fatigue, convinced the groups to hold off on the publicity until the movie is released. Is it wrong of me to think that? Another very interesting story is that of Josh Rushing, a former Marine officer who is now a correspondent for Al-Jazeera English. You can see his reporting on YouTube, there is one report that impressed me particularly, called "Merchants of Death". [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV6CiZ029bM&feature=PlayList&p=618C2C9DA2CF296A&index=4]Part 1[/url] shows that what works in the criminal justice system may not work in a COIN (counter-insurgency) context. [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fC4vrxrQgk&feature=PlayList&p=618C2C9DA2CF296A&index=5]Part 2[/url] shows how one prison in Iraq that is helping to win the COIN battle. Amusing also is the title screen or "bumper", presumably created by Rushing's Al-Jazeera producer, that attempt to link the US, Iraq, and Vietnam. Standard, boring, leftist trope, but the report is worth watching anyhow. The Bernard Kerik/Supermax concept was successful in NY City (at least insofar as regaining control of the prisons and protecting prisoners from each other). The Supermax concept reminds me of a description of the US facilities at Gitmo from people who have been there, the difference being, unlike NYC prisons in the 80's and 90's, the Gitmo facilities were never out of control. The concept used in Iraq by Gen. Douglas Stone (in the video, Part 2) sounds like the kind of thing we ought to have to replace Gitmo. The first order of business in such a prison would be to "sift and winnow", to separate the truly dangerous terrorists from the low-level followers (who could be won over), and from the civilians who got caught up in the whole thing. I haven't been able to find the origin of the Gen. Stone concept. It sound like the sort of changes Gitmo was trying to make during the 2nd Bush administration. If they did make that change, it would certainly help explain Atty. General Holder's statement that Gitmo was well-run. But for obvious reasons, it is hard the public to know exactly was policies were in place in Gitmo, and when. One hopes that these are the sort of reforms that an idealistic pragmatist like Marla Ruzicka would support.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"AR is currently the top search result" Oops I should have posted [url=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&as_q=Marla+Ruzicka&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&num=10&lr=&as_filetype=&ft=i&as_sitesearch=&as_qdr=m&as_rights=&as_occt=any&cr=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&safe=off]this link to Google[/url], which restricts results to pages updated in the past month. Without the restriction, her Wikipedia entry is the top result.

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