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Biography of Eugenio Vagni

23-04-2009 Feature

Eugenio Vagni is an ICRC employee who was abducted in the southern Philippines on 15 January 2009.

   

  ©ICRC/R. Tolentino    
 
  Eugenio at work on the island of Mindanao, Philippines, in 2008    
    Eugenio Vagni, 61 years old, was born in Montevarchi, Italy. He has been married to Khun Kwan, since 2006, and they have a daughter who will be two years old in August. Khun Kwan also has a son from a previous marriage, whom Eugenio Vagni regards as his own.
 
Mr Vagni is a specialist in water-supply systems. Before j oining the ICRC in 2002, he studied in Canada and worked in many countries, first for private companies and then for various aid organizations. Mr Vagni has worked for the ICRC in Guinea, Ethiopia, Myanmar, the northern Caucasus, Afghanistan and the Philippines.
 
His duties usually involve managing a team of engineers and dealing with local contractors. According to ICRC water engineer Guy Mouron, Mr Vagni's " easy Italian talking skills " stood him in good stead in the northern Caucasus, where his contacts spoke Russian or Chechen and could be rather set in their ways.
 
Mr Vagni is popular with his colleagues for his good sense of humour and his ability to get along with everyone. " He doesn't just hang out with the expats, " said Alexandre Farine, a water engineer who worked with Mr Vagni in Afghanistan. " He enjoys doing things with the local staff, and he also spends a lot of time with the people receiving aid. "
 
Mr Vagni loves good food and is known for his " italianità " . Those who have worked with him almost always mention his prowess as a cook – especially of pasta. At the ICRC sub-delegation in Kandahar, where he worked for over a year, he often cooked for everyone at weekends. He seasoned his pasta with basil imported from Italy that he grew himself. The " jungle " of basil he had growing on the premises became the stuff of legends.
 
According to Elena Tesheva, an ICRC field officer who worked with Mr Vagni in the Caucasus, " he would greet everyone here with a big smile and say'Come stai?'. " This had such an effect that even now, more than two years after he left, " there are a lot of people in Nalchik and Grozny who greet each other with'Come stai?', just as Eugenio taught them. "