Thursday, 15 January 2009

B.C. aid worker attacked in Cambodia

Zivny-Jiri Handout

Carolynne Burkholder
Canwest News
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Canadian humanitarian worker is in critical condition in a Cambodian hospital after being beaten into a coma, according to an aid organization.

Jiri Zivny was "attacked, beaten and left in a ditch for dead," a spokesman for the International Humanitarian Hope Society said on Tuesday.

Zivny, of Kamloops, B.C., was on the 24th day of a humanitarian mission in the region, said organization spokesman Monty Aldoff.

Zivny, who is in his 40s, was part of a team that travelled to Asia in December to volunteer at impoverished orphanages, Aldoff said.

But when Aldoff and the rest of the group returned to Canada before Christmas Day, Zivny and a fellow aid worker chose to stay in the country.

"While they were in Cambodia, one of them had gone to a bank machine and he was followed and attacked, beaten and left in a ditch for dead for hours," Aldoff said.

Zivny was taken to the Calette Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital and most populous city, Aldoff said.

Aldoff said Zivny has been in a coma since the assault on Friday and doctors have given him a 30 per cent chance of survival.

"He needs to be (transported) out of there. That's what needs to happen," said Aldoff. "Right now, he's just kind of surviving . . . We want to get him out of there. That's what we're trying to do."

A spokeswoman from the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that officials are aware of a Canadian citizen injured in Cambodia.

The Privacy Act prevents Foreign Affairs from releasing any details about the victim, including his name, said spokeswoman Lisa Monette.

Monette said Australian consular officials are assisting the injured Canadian, thanks to a sharing agreement between the two embassies.

Canadian officials also have been in contact with the victim's family, she said.

Aldoff said Zivny was targeted because he's a foreigner.

"Unfortunately in these Third-World countries where they don't have anything, they look at foreigners as people with money and we become targets there," Aldoff said.

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