BBG, VOA pay tribute to journalist killed last month in Yemen

A journalist who was killed in his home country of Yemen last month while on assignment for the Voice of America was memorialized in a ceremony on Thursday at BBG headquarters in Washington.

BBG Director and CEO John Lansing, Acting VOA Director Kelu Chao and Clara Dominguez, managing editor of the VOA News Center, paid tribute to Almigdad Mojalli. His name was placed on a memorial with the other BBG journalists who have been killed while on assignment over the years.

Mojalli specialized in reporting on humanitarian issues in Yemen, where a bloody civil war has been raging for the past year.

He was mortally wounded in Saudi-led coalition air strikes on January 17 near the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, while filming the aftermath of a previous air raid on a civilian area. He was only 34.

“His death is tragic, but Mr. Mojalli passed away doing work that he felt was his responsibility as a human being,” Lansing said. “He was utterly dedicated to covering humanitarian crises, exposing human rights abuses and providing unbiased reporting.”

Chao pointed to the wall honoring the deceased BBG journalists, saying they paid a price for the work that the agency does.

“Almigdad Mojalli was like many of our stringers and journalists who regularly put their lives in danger,” she said. “He risked his life to give a voice to those in his homeland who yearned for peace, prosperity and freedom.

Thursday’s ceremony drew a crowd of about 75 people that included Yemeni diplomat Malak Abdelhameed, BBG Governors Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Michael Kempner, Kenneth Weinstein and Dr. Leon Aron, and Jeff Trimble, deputy director of the International Broadcasting Bureau.

Mojalli freelanced for VOA from October 2015 until last month.  He also contributed to IRIN, an international news service that specializes in humanitarian issues, and to the British newspaper The Telegraph.

His articles on homes demolished by airstrikes, on hospitals deprived of medicine and on people crying out for help and justice were of “great quality,” Lansing said.

“Mr. Mojalli sought to portray the terrible human cost of conflict—respectfully, accurately, and in the end, powerfully,“ Lansing said. “With his signature professional touch, he documented many scenes of trauma and destruction, even as the outside world turned a blind eye.”

Mojalli, according to Dominguez, was part of the “terrible cost of war.”

“As Yemen descended into chaos, Almigdad could have left but chose to stay,” she said. “He became a lifeline for foreign journalists trying to cover the story. He worked closely with VOA Cairo bureau chief Heather Murdock, who says he will be missed as a journalist and as a friend.”

Remarks from today’s ceremony in its entirety can be found in the sidebar.