June 03, 2004


helene.jpgHÈlËne De Beir, SAIS (and BC) class of '99, was murdered in Northwest Afghanistan yesterday, working for MÈdÈcins Sans FrontiËres. HÈlËne and four MSF colleagues were setting up a new clinic when they were ambushed in Badghis province. The Taliban have claimed responsibility. The MSF has put out a press release, and both Bloomberg and the BBC (Real Video) have reports on the first fatalities in MSF's 33 years of existence.

HÈlËne was a beautiful, wonderful woman with one of the sharpest wits you'll ever come across (too sharp, said some, but what did they know?). Hers is a great loss for all of us, no matter where we stand on other issues.

My heart goes out to her family, and especially her loving boyfriend Lucas, who she met in Bologna.

UPDATE: Marianne Stigset has a reaction in tomorrow's Lebanese Daily Star. MSF has a page up remembering all five members of the team.

16/6/04 UPDATE: Donate to MSF in HÈlËne's name!

Posted by Mike at 02:02 PM GMT

This wasn't the most appropriate forum for this, but I thought it had to be said, and enough of us are bolognese that you might be interested.

There's been discussion of making donations to MSF in her name: if something gets organized, I'll post accordingly.

Posted by: mike on June 3, 2004 02:05 PM

It's people like her that make SAIS proud.

Posted by: Stefan Geens on June 3, 2004 02:50 PM

Mike, I think your posting this was appropriate and emphathetic. I didn't know Helene but I have known many people like her, particularly from SAIS, and this news genuinely saddens me. Her family must be heartbroken.

Posted by: Jame on June 4, 2004 11:14 AM

Absolutely, this was completely appropriate for MemeFirst, and posting it was the right thing to do. In fact, I felt rather grotty putting up a snarky and meaningless post about Choire Sicha and the Soho House directly above it an hour later. Presumably the family would like donations made to MSF in her name?

Posted by: Felix on June 4, 2004 04:13 PM

I cannot speak for the family, only her friends, but we (er, my old roommate Dirk) have been talking to MSF-Netherlands about how donations would be most effective towards what she was working on. They've said they do need funding for their Afghanistan operations, and Dirk is looking into how we can make the most symbolic, as well as effective, impact in our donations. As soon as I know I'll pass on word.

Posted by: mike on June 4, 2004 04:25 PM

MSF took the decision to pull out of Afghanistan yesterday. I wish they hadn't.

Posted by: charles on July 28, 2004 12:37 PM

The full story is here. It does indeed make for depressing reading.

Posted by: Felix on July 28, 2004 01:59 PM

And interview here.

Posted by: Felix on July 28, 2004 04:07 PM