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Statement on the Deaths of United Nations Refugee Workers in Indonesia and in Guinea

September 25, 2000

I join all Americans in mourning the recent deaths of United Nations refugee workers in Indonesia and in Guinea.

On September 6 in West Timor, three staff members of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees were brutally murdered by a rampaging local militia. One of those killed was an American, Carlos Caceres-Collazo, who was still new to the cause of helping refugees and displaced persons, but already dedicated to it, even in conditions of great danger and hardship.

Two weeks later, in the West African country of Guinea, another UNHCR staff member was killed, and a colleague abducted, by an unidentified armed group. I extend my condolences to their families and to UNHCR, which has been shocked by these tragedies. We hope that the abducted employee will be returned to safety.

These international civil servants were willing to take enormous risks and endure great hardship to protect and assist the most vulnerable refugees, displaced and war-affected people. Humanitarian workers operate on the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and it is tragic that they so frequently become the victims of willful violence themselves. We must work to end the culture of impunity that allows such violence to flourish and dedicate ourselves to strengthening the protection of those whose mission is to help their fellow human beings.

William J. Clinton, Statement on the Deaths of United Nations Refugee Workers in Indonesia and in Guinea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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