Bill Clinton pays emotional tribute to staffer Elif Yavuz killed in Kenya mall siege
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks on stage during the Clinton Global Initiative 2013 in New York, Sept. 24. REUTERS photoFormer U.S. president Bill Clinton paid an emotional tribute Sept. 24 to mother-to-be Elif Yavuz, a staffer of his foundation working in Kenya who was killed during the bloody siege of a mall in the capital Nairobi over the week-end.
The 33-year-old Dutch citizen of Turkish origin was a malaria specialist who worked with people suffering from AIDS. Yavuz was over eight months pregnant when she and her Australian partner Ross Langdon were killed in the attack.
Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York to a large audience, Clinton fought tears back as he revealed that the couple went to Nairobi thinking that it was “the safest, best place for her to give birth.”
Clinton told the silent crowd he had spoken on the phone with Yavuz’s mother in the Netherlands, and was “a little choked up” as a result.
This undated photo shows Elif
Yavuz and her partner Ross
Langdon in Australia. AP photo
Clinton also spoke about his encounter with Yavuz in Tanzania six weeks ago.
“This beautiful woman comes up to me, very pregnant. She was so pregnant that I assured her that I had been a Lamaze father and could be pressed into service at any moment,” Clinton said, describing her as “incredibly gifted and good.”
“[She was a] brilliant young mother-to-be who did everything she could to make the most of her life,” he said.
Elif Yavuz had completed a PhD in public health policy at Harvard University and was employed as a senior vaccines researcher by the Clinton Health Access Initiative.