News and Information
Iraq urges aid agencies to stay
|October 20, 2004
| A senior Iraqi official has urged aid agencies in the country not to leave following the kidnap of Care International director Margaret Hassan.
National Security Adviser Muffawaq al-Rubaiye said the Iraqi people needed the agencies badly, and pulling out would mean giving in to terrorists.
The appeal came as Care International itself suspended its aid operations.
Mr Rubaiye said he did not know who had kidnapped Mrs Hassan, who was seized on her way to work in Baghdad on Tuesday.
If they do [leave], this is exactly what the terrorists and these criminals want them to do, and the Iraqi people need them badly
Iraqi national security adviser
A video of Mrs Hassan - who was born in Ireland and has dual UK and Iraqi citizenship - was broadcast on al-Jazeera TV station, showing her with her hands tied behind her back.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern both said they were doing everything they could to secure her release.
Iraq has been hit by a wave of kidnappings of foreigners since 2003 for political reasons and ransoms.
But criminal gangs have also seized many local residents - notably a succession of prominent doctors and businessmen - to extort money from their families.
In other developments:
* Two car bombings in Samarra, north of Baghdad, are reported to have killed at least one child and injured more than a dozen other people, many of them US soldiers
* Two Egyptian telecoms workers are freed after being kidnapped from their Baghdad office last month
* A huge blast hits an area of central Baghdad known as a scene of clashes between US-led forces and insurgents
* A US army reservist pleads guilty to five charges of abusing prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail
* US planes fire on a house in Falluja, killing a couple and their four children, and also hit a teacher training college
* Senior Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Kazem Haeri cuts ties with radical cleric Moqtada Sadr for encouraging his followers to fight US troops.
In an interview for BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Rubaiye described the kidnapping as "very unfortunate", adding that Mrs Hassan had been doing good work for Iraqis for more than a decade.
She was well-loved by everyone
Tahseen Ali Hassan
Security fears for Iraq Britons
Profile: Margaret Hassan
Iraq hostage facts
Profile: Care International
"These people, I can tell you, are going to alienate all Iraqis against them," he said, referring to the kidnappers.
He said the government was doing its best to give extra protection to NGOs, and urged them to stay.
"If they do [leave], this is exactly what the terrorists and these criminals want them to do, and the Iraqi people need them badly," Mr Rubaiye said.
But Robert Glasser, chief executive of Care Australia, which is co-ordinating the charity's operation in Iraq, said work had stopped since Mrs Hassan was taken.
"Our staff are not operating currently there, they're certainly not working there now in light of the current situation.
Meanwhile patients in wheelchairs gathered at a Baghdad hospital, whose rebuilding Care International had funded, to protest against Mrs Hassan's kidnapping, Reuters news agency reported.
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"She rebuilt this hospital in co-operation with the medical staff here and her humanitarian efforts. Without her help we can't do anything," patient Mehdi Jaffa told the agency.
Mrs Hassan's husband Tahseen Ali Hassan appealed for her release, saying she had never received any threats before the kidnapping.
"This is a humanitarian organisation which has been serving the people of Iraq for 30 years," he said. "She was well loved by everyone."
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