Character Kill of a Humanitarian

Ken Isaacs, head of international relief for Samaritan's Purse, is seen speaking about an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014. Isaacs has in recent years expressed controversial views about Muslims in social media posts. He is the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the UN International Organization for Migration. (Alejandro Davila Fragoso/MCT)

By:David Fält

I don’t agree with much of the Trump Administration’s policies and I’m not an American citizen. Normally, that would mean it’s not my place to comment. But given the Washington Post’s Editorial Board recent brutal character killing of Ken Isaacs, I’m compelled to say something.

The instability and famine in Eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen is overwhelming. The need for a bipartisan and united front in the fight against global immigration is more pressing than ever, and the international community carries an unprecedented responsibility to deal with the current and looming crises swiftly and decisively. The organizations within the UN umbrella that are tasked with emergency responses need to be properly funded and led by people with not only experience from humanitarian disasters, but more importantly these leaders need to be passionate about saving lives.


In this context few are better suited than Ken Isaacs. I have known Ken through his work in South Sudan, Nepal and Iraq. I have the deepest respect for Ken’s relentless efforts to save lives. Within hours of a disaster, no matter where or what ethnicity or religious beliefs the affected people have, Ken Isaacs will pray and spring into action, assembling his organization’s vast resources, and deploy to the frontlines. Samaritan’s Purse is often found on the ground before any other organizations have even deployed.

I know Ken Isaacs as a passionate defender of minorities and others in desperate situations. Ken Isaacs, to me, epitomizes the spirit of a humanitarian. His long experience and dedication to humanity makes Ken Isaacs the ideal US nominee for Director General of the United Nation’s International Office for Migration (IOM).

IOM needs a steadfast hand that can guide its efforts in Libya, South Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere. Ken has a moral compass that would guarantee an impartial leadership approach and he has the dedication and the integrity to make a difference in the position as the head of IOM, even if it means risking his own life.

One can argue that there is no space for bravado as the head of the IOM, but I believe that the hands-on approach that I have witnessed from Ken Isaacs is exactly what UN organizations need. You lead by example and Ken Isaacs has served his whole life dedicated to helping people who have fled war and disaster, no matter of religion or color.

It’s in the best interest of America and the members of the international community to appoint someone who is a true believer in humanity and everyone’s right to a dignified life, even if he or she is displaced, a refugee or persecuted and forced to leave home. The Washington Post’s Editorial from the 11th of February is misrepresenting the character of Ken Isaacs, it’s an outright character kill, it’s politically biased based on a few tweets that has no bearings. Let Ken Isaacs’ outstanding humanitarian track record be the yardstick he is measured by, not the 140 characters a tweet constitutes.

David Fält

David Fält is a Swedish humanitarian and conflict resolution practitioner currently in South Sudan. He is someone who has watched Ken Isaacs up close, indiscriminately scramble to help people in desperate need when displaced in South Sudan, Iraq and Nepal.

Disclaimer: David Fält has no affiliation with any organization Ken Isaacs have worked for or works for.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Horndiplomat’s editorial policy.

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