Image copyright: Family handout
Rebecca Dykes, a 30-year-old British Embassy worker in Lebanon was found dead near the main road just outside of Beirut. A 35-year-old Lebanese man, identified as driving for Uber, was arrested for her murder and is awaiting charges for murder and rape.
Rebecca worked at the British Embassy in the Department for International Development as the program and policy manager since January 2017. It seems that she was spending her free time on Friday night at the Gemmayzeh district in Beirut attending a going away party for one of her colleagues. She is reported to have left the bar where the party was being held and was abducted. Her body was found with signs of strangulation and sexual assault.
Photo of a street in Gemmayzeh, Beirut
The British Foreign Office states that have been in contact and is helping the local Lebanese authorities with this case and confirmed that a man was arrested early on Monday morning. The local place managed to trace his vehicle using CCTV and made the arrest. It is alleged that the man has several prior arrests.
Beirut is now slowly settling down after many years of upheaval, and the Gemmayzeh area is considered to be a safe hot spot for diplomats, foreign aid workers, and journalists that seek a location to mingle and relax.
Most of these foreign workers would not think twice about ordering a taxi or Uber service to take them home after a fine meal or night out drinking. Foreign relief work is hazardous and strenuous and often places its people in dangerous and even life-threatening situations.
Beirut is not considered to be a life-threatening community, it is close-knit, and usually, foreign residents are safe. The recent murder has shaken the community as a whole especially the foreign workers, who now fear the streets of Beirut again.
Rebecca was commended in the British House of Lords, where Lady Macintosh stated that "The loss of Rebecca Dykes in these circumstances is felt very deeply. We pay tribute to the work that she and the all Dfid team do, often in very dangerous circumstances, particularly at this time of year, for humanitarian purposes."
The British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter said that all the staff was deeply shocked and troubled by the sad news of Rebecca's death.
Lord Bates, UK's International Development Minister told the media that this is a very hard time for Rebecca's family in particular, but for the British public as a whole. It is also a testament to the dangers that all 1,200 DFID personnel face every day when working in seemingly safe, yet unfortunately, hostile environments.