The head of operations in Iraq for CARE International, a leading humanitarian aid organization, was kidnapped this morning. Reuters reports that Margaret Hassan, who was born in Britain and married an Iraqi, has lived in Iraq over the past 30 years and has been working for CARE International since the early 1990s. According to CARE’s website, it is the only foreign non-governmental organization that has a continuous presence in southern and central Iraq. Hassan recently led a team of 60 staff to provide the aid needed at hospitals and to help restore power and water supplies, reports Reuters.
As the violence increases in Iraq, threats against Iraqi women leaders and women working for the aid agencies have been escalating in Iraq. Earlier this year, two female Italian aid workers were kidnapped and were eventually released. In July, two Iraqi women working with British forces were killed when they were traveling to work, and another two Iraqi women working for the Coalition Provincial Authority were killed by gunmen while driving in a minibus in Baghdad. In addition, Fern Holland, a leading women’s rights activist who worked tirelessly in Iraq to help Iraqi women achieve their rights, became one of the first American civilian employees of the Coalition Provisional Authority to be killed in Iraq.