U.N. relief workers need better protection on job

Where is our national outrage over the brutal slaying of American relief worker Carlos Caceres earlier this month in Atambua, West Timor?

Perhaps Americans are simply too overloaded with stories of worldwide tragedies — such as the Russian submarine Kursk — to absorb the horror of Caceres’ death and those of his fellow relief workers, Samson Aregahegn of Ethiopia and Pero Simundza of Croatia, at the hands of machete-wielding militiamen. The story may not top the office-chatter list, but that does not diminish the impact Caceres’ life had on this country or the less-fortunate people he served in Indonesia.

America has lost a valuable citizen. Caceres struck an amazing balance between being incredibly well-educated and using his brains to help people. At the young age of 33, he had already earned three doctorates and spoke five languages, including Czech and Russian. He studied journalism at the University of Florida and law at Cornell. He even went to Oxford University. He could have been and done anything he wanted. He could have made tons of money in a cushy office job somewhere. But, as he explained to his mother, "I like what I am doing: to see how other people are living, to see what they need, and to be able to help them."

Caceres knew he was doing dangerous work. He knew the militiamen did not like him and that he had little support from the local Indonesian military, who ignored him when he told them he had received a death threat. And yet, as an email he sent just hours before he died suggests, he focused on the work that needed to be done where he was.

Caceres’ family deserves support in their quest to find answers as to why officials of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees didn’t evacuate the Atambua office despite repeated death threats and attacks by militia gangs. The U.S. must insist that procedures be amended to ensure the safety of relief workers — American or not — as much as is possible.

A U.S. citizen gave his life to help abused and terrified people in a country most Americans know virtually nothing about. He represented us well. The least we can do is remember the name Carlos Caceres.


FROM Talkback

WHERE Story LIKE ‘../Stories/00/9/21/12984207.cfm’

AND Dateverified LIKE ‘verified’

ORDER BY Dateposted

Talk back

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Friday, June 2

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

A map of the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Set your muscle memory for work zone speed cameras

Starting next summer, not slowing down in highway work zones can result in a $500 fine.

Schwab: To discern fascism, ask the generation that fought it

A World War II-era pamphlet for U.S. troops described what they were fighting against; and why.

Saunders: ‘Heckler’s veto’ a poor conclusion to diploma quest

Shouting down a commencement speaker you don’t agree with is counter to intellectual development.

Comment: It’s up to Democrats to get rid of debt limit for good

The next time Democrats have control, they need to make sure the economy isn’t again held hostage.

Comment: Ukraine takes calculated gamble with attacks in Russia

Drone and other attacks offer strategic benefits but could backfire if Russian civilian deaths mount.

Comment: The filibuster’s days are numbered; unfortunately

Until it became the default block for all legislation, the Senate filibuster actually worked well.

File - A teenager holds her phone as she sits for a portrait near her home in Illinois, on Friday, March 24, 2023. The U.S. Surgeon General is warning there is not enough evidence to show that social media is safe for young people — and is calling on tech companies, parents and caregivers to take "immediate action to protect kids now." (AP Photo Erin Hooley, File)
Editorial: Warning label on social media not enough for kids

The U.S. surgeon general has outlined tasks for parents, officials and social media companies.

Anabelle Parsons, then 6, looks up to the sky with binoculars to watch the Vaux's swifts fly in during Swift's Night Out, Sept. 8, 2018 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Birders struggle with legacy, name of Audubon

Like other chapters, Pilchuck Audubon is weighing how to address the slaveholder’s legacy.

Most Read