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Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) advocates on behalf of victims of armed conflict, working to ensure they receive recognition and assistance from warring parties.
CIVIC persuaded the US Congress to establish programs for war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq, guides victims to assistance, brings the human cost of war to the attention of policymakers and the public, and is advocating a new global standard of conduct that warring parties should help where they have hurt.
In 2005, CIVIC's founder Marla Ruzicka was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber while advocating for families injured and killed in the crossfire. CIVIC honors her legacy and strives to sustain her vision.
CIVIC was founded in 2003 by the young activist and humanitarian Marla Ruzicka, after traveling to conflict zones and realizing the need for an organization focusing specifically on the plight of innocent civilians devastated by war.
Just weeks after the beginning of the 2001 war in Afghanistan, Marla traveled to refugee camps in Pakistan and to a hospital in Afghanistan. This first glimpse of the real and tragic human cost of war changed Marla's life forever. She noted that no one - not even the U.S. military - was counting or helping these injured and killed civilians. After organizing a door-to-door survey of the Afghan people, she took her results to Washington. An aid on the Senate Appropriations Committee would later say: "She'd actually seen what we'd only read about, namely U.S. bombs dropped in the wrong place, which had wiped out whole communities. Marla gave us on-the-ground information about these people and told us that nothing was being done to help them."
As a new war in Iraq unfolded, Marla moved to Baghdad. Within months, she was among the few western aid workers who stayed, continuing to do what she could to help families devastated in the conflict. In 2003, Marla founded CIVIC - Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, thus creating an organization to take on what she herself was doing with the help solely of volunteers.
Following Marla's tragic passing as a result of a suicide bomb in Baghdad in April 2005, her colleagues, friends and family knew that CIVIC held a unique place in the advocacy community that should not be left vacant.
In 2007, CIVIC expanded its mandate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to focus on the alarming commonality among conflicts the world over: the civilian lives torn apart and the near absence of responsibility being taken by the warring parties involved. CIVIC is now the only organization focused solely on securing a new standard of conduct in war after bombs and bullets harm innocent civilians.
Together with a vast network of government and military officials, humanitarians, advocates, journalists, and volunteers, CIVIC's staff works toward a better, smarter, more compassionate outcome for war victims the world over.
- Marla Bertagnolli
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