Fernanda Calado, ICRC nurse of Spanish nationality, was one of the six Red Cross
staffers who were assassinated in cold blood by unidentified gunmen in Chechnya on
December 17th, 1996. The six were gunned down while they were asleep in their house
located within the hospital compound of Novye Atagi, 25 km south of the capital Grozny.
They were Ingeborg Foss and Gunnhild Myklebust, nurses from the Norwegian Red Cross,
Nancy Malloy, medical administrator from the Canadian Red Cross, Sheryl Thayer, a
New Zealand Red Cross nurse, Hans Elkebout, a constructor from the Netherlands Red
Cross, and Fernanda Calado. The following text is a very personal last tribute to
Fernanda Calado who worked for the ICRC as Head Nurse in Mongkol Borei Hospital in
Banteay Meanchey, from August 1992 to January 1994.
Whenever we look up and see our flag fly half-mast, our thoughts are travelling to
you. In Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and in Phnom Penh, people have you in their
hearts and many fond memories are being unfolded, told and retold, amidst a flow
I met you in Angola in 1985 where you were taking care of the dormitory where women,
men and children, all amputees were waiting to be fitted in our orthopaedic workshop.
I see you kneeling in front of them, so small yet so full of energy, with your blond
curls bouncing, changing their bandages, soothing their pain, showing them that amidst
the misery and the suffering in this long and cruel civil war, the people under the
sign of the Red Cross had not given up on them. And you were driven by the conviction
that the local nurses could achieve higher standards. You taught them how to do their
job professionally because after our departure it would be their task to ensure better
care for all, including the poorest and most disadvantaged.
And you did it all with a flashing smile.
I remember the long curfew nights where, stuck in our houses, we organized dancing
lessons. You were such a great tango dancer, light as a feather, with music in your
There are moments in life when our faith in what we do takes a serious blow. One
of these moments was early June 1996, when three of our colleagues were assassinated
while attempting to bring relief to refugees in Burundi. Another one is today. We
are shocked, we are sad, and we are outraged. Shocked that you, asleep and defenseless,
were mowed down. Sad that we lost our friends. Outraged that once again the Red Cross
has been made a target. You were out there to heal the wounds, to help the Chechnyan
people get back on their feet again, after the devastating conflict which broke apart
families, destroyed homes, shattered hopes.
In Cambodia, in Angola, in Chechnya, in Pakistan, in Ecuador, in Kenya, in Rwanda,
in Israel, you stood for a glimmer of hope and for the chance of a better tomorrow.
We try to keep the flame of hope alive, but it is so hard.
We wish you a safe journey to wherever you may go. Farewell, Ingeborg, Gunnhild,
Nancy, Sheryl and Hans. Adios, Fernanda.