Back in July 2011, in the heat of the battle for Libya, I sat with Chris Stevens — then the U.S. government’s special envoy to the Libyan opposition — in his compound in Benghazi. We talked about how groups like Mercy Corps could best support Libyans, who were suffering mightily, and whose future, whatever the outcome of the war, was far from certain.
Though I didn’t know Chris well, he and I both spent a lot of time in the Middle East over the years and he was known to be a great friend to the people there.
In my dealings with him, it was clear that he was a great person who represented the best of diplomacy: pragmatic but hopeful, mindful of risks but also deeply courageous. As the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris was an important partner for Mercy Corps. He was deeply committed to engaging with civil society, and he supported important work we’re doing with emerging civic leaders in Benghazi. Consistent with his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in North Africa, he had a lot of heart, like the humanitarian aid workers I spend so much time with.
We at Mercy Corps join the global community in expressing our shock and sadness at his death. Those who attacked Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues are not representative of the Libyan people, the vast majority of whom are working peacefully toward a better Libya. This tragedy is a reminder that serious risks remain, but in our work we see the promise and the progress in Libya every day.
As Mercy Corps mourns this loss, we affirm our commitment to a more secure, productive and just Libya, in the spirit of Chris Stevens’ incredible work.