On Fred Cuny:

A man named Fred Cuny was murdered by both sides in Chechnya last April. The Russians planted misinformation, indicating that he was a spy, and the Chechens believed it and killed him.

Cuny was an American original, a Texan who had made himself into an expert in disaster relief. A private consultant frequently hired by government, Cuny spent his adult life in places like Biafra, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia and Bosnia. In Chechnya, he was hoping to arrange a ceasefire.

Cuny was a remarkable man; things were obvious to him that were not to other people. He would arrive in a country where millions of people were displaced or starving, look around, and immediately decide where he could do the most good with the resources he had. His insights, as reported by William Shawcross in A Hero of Our Time for the New York Review of Books, were beautifully direct and simple, almost obvious except that no-one else had arrived at them.

For example, in one country he recommended that a relief effort stop flying in blankets, because the local blanket industry was being threatened. The trick, instead, was to support the local industry by getting their blankets to the people who needed them.

In other places, he pointed out that food airlifts to the major cities were denuding the countryside and killing local agriculture, because hungry people were deserting the country to pile up in refugee camps around the urban airports. Here the trick was to get the food out into the country and shore up agriculture simultaneously.

In Sarajevo he restored water to much of the city by building an aqueduct out of begged and borrowed scraps.

- Excerpt from The Ethical Spectacle (http://www.spectacle.org/196/cuny.html)


More exhaustive information on Fred Cuny: A Hero of Our Time (William Shawcross, New York Review of Books, November 30, 1995) at http://www.reliefnet.org/doc/cuny.html

For a four-minute RealAudio excerpt of an NPR (National Public Radio) newsprogram, All Things Considered (June 26, 1995), please go to http://www.realaudio.com/contentp/npr/nc0626.html

[....Mike Shuster has an update on the search for Fred Cuny...the American relief expert who disappeared in Chechnya in April. Russian sources say he is alive and being held by Chechens, however there is no independent confirmation of that report....]