The journalist and media activist Sputnik Kilambi has died at the age of 55 after a battle with liver cancer. Kilambi was often the only woman reporting from war zones. She was known as a mentor to other journalists who reported from the ground rather than from the press office. She worked for more than a decade at Radio France Internationale, and her voice was regularly heard as a correspondent for Free Speech Radio News, which she helped found. In 2002, she worked to expose sexual trafficking in the Balkans, where international peacekeepers hired by companies like DynCorp were contributing to the very crimes they were there to combat.
Sputnik Kilambi: “Estimates suggest more than 700,000 people, especially women and girls, are trafficked across the borders worldwide. Almost one-third of this figure concerns the Balkans, which has become a major transit and destination point. And one reason for this clearly is the huge international presence in the region.”
Kilambi also worked with the United Nations to establish media outlets and trained journalists dedicated to peace in countries ravaged by violence, including in Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Côte d’Ivoire, where the U.N. radio station she helped found is known as “the peace frequency.” She worked most recently in Rwanda, helping to create the country’s first independent television news station.