Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The New York Times > An American Aid Worker Is Killed in Her Line of Duty

The New York Times > International > Middle East > An American Aid Worker Is Killed in Her Line of Duty:

"For more than two years, Marla Ruzicka worked to get help for innocent civilians caught in cross-fires here. A 28-year-old Californian with blond hair and an electric smile, she ran a one-woman aid group.

On Saturday afternoon, Ms. Ruzicka became a casualty herself. A suicide bomber attacked a convoy of security contractors that was passing near her car on the airport road in Baghdad, killing her and her Iraqi driver, United States Embassy officials in Baghdad said.

Ms. Ruzicka had worked in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. She took great risks, often traveling to talk to Iraqis without the guards and armored cars that reporters here tend to rely on. She also had an extraordinary gift for promoting her cause, whether in Iraq or Washington.

She worked with Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, to get $2.5 million for civilian victims in Afghanistan, and later, $10 million for victims in Iraq. Last week another $10 million was authorized for the Iraq program.

'She was the one that persuaded us,' Mr. Leahy said Sunday afternoon in a telephone interview. 'Here's someone who at 28 years old did more than most people do in a lifetime.'

Ms. Ruzicka was deceptively girlish in person. She often arranged parties for the foreign correspondents here and in Afghanistan. She was in her element, with her distinctive giggle always audible over the music. But she used the occasions to lobby reporters to write about the things that mattered to her.

The evening before she died, she visited this reporter in Baghdad to talk about civilian casualties. She spoke with affection about a 2-year-old girl she was helping, whose parents and other relatives were killed by a missile in 2003.

'She calls me bride Marla because of my hair,' she said happily of the girl, Harah.

Ms. Ruzicka had also obtained new numbers on civilian casualties fr"

No comments: