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.
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: