This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

"At Atmeh's makeshift clinic, composed of two adjoining trailers, it's not bombs that are killing refugees—it is lack of medicine and proper sanitation."

Steven Sotloff wrote those words in 2012, reporting from a refugee camp in Syria near the Turkish border. It was part of a career spent reporting from dangerous places, where he went willingly to witness news firsthand and bring it to a broader audience.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria released a video Tuesday purporting to show the execution of Sotloff. Sotloff went missing a year ago in northern Syria, where he had been reporting on the country's civil war.

Sotloff, 31, was a freelance journalist and a self-described "stand-up philosopher from Miami," according to The New York Times. His work has been published in a variety of news outlets, including Time, the Christian Science Monitor, and World Affairs Journal.

In a 2012 article for Time, Sotloff covered the civil unrest in Libya after the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11 of that year. There, he reported on the failures of the Libyan government to protect its own police force.

"Both the interim government that sprouted up during the revolution and the elected body that replaced it have failed to build the institutions necessary to establish law and order," Sotloff wrote at the time. "These failures are largely due to [Muammar el-Qaddafi's] quixotic policies of state devolution, dismantling the control of the central government in certain areas while turning over the responsibilities of governance to municipalities."

Sotloff also reported from Egypt during last year's military coup, which ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the nation's first democratically elected president. In a piece for World Affairs Journal titled, "The Muslim Brotherhood's Legitimate Grievances," Sotloff gave a glimpse of the courage he possessed in his reporting:

When I told my Egyptian friend Ahmad Kamal that I wanted to go to the Muslim Brotherhood protest camp in Nasser City, a pallid look gripped him. "Don't go there!" he pleaded. "They are fanatics who hate foreigners. Americans like you are in danger there." After an hour of fruitless conversation over endless glasses of sweet tea, I rose, shook Ahmad's hand, and headed straight to the lair where he believed I would be devoured.

 

In December 2012, Sotloff covered the Syrian civil war for Foreign Policy. There, he wrote of the economic despair in Aleppo—of Syrians waiting in lines for seven hours for a bag of pita bread. He wrote of the refugee camps on the Turkish border, where roughly 3 million displaced Syrians suffered without heat or electricity, and with not enough food, water, or medicine.

At the camp in Atmeh, Sotloff wrote about the struggles of refugees' daily life:

The regime has targeted Free Syria Army positions near the camp, and the loud explosions caused by heavy weaponry frequently wake residents. But at Atmeh's makeshift clinic, composed of two adjoining trailers, it's not bombs that are killing refugees—it is lack of medicine and proper sanitation. The camp's medical staff treats roughly 300 people per day for diseases ranging from tonsillitis to gastrointestinal ailments. Every day, an average of three toddlers contract bronchitis, but there is little the medical staff can do.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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