Medair staff members rescued in Afghanistan

A member of Medair teaches girls about sanitation in Afghanistan. Four aid workers for the organization who were kidnapped on May 22 have been rescued by NATO and Afghan forces. Photo by: Medair

NATO and Afghan forces went on what U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron described as a “breathtaking” rescue mission Saturday (June 2), freeing the four aid workers taken by militants May 22 in Badakhshan province.

Medair confirmed the release of Briton Helen Johnston, Kenyan Moragwa Oirere and two Afghan colleagues, who are now on their way to be reunited with their families. The four — plus an Afghan colleague who reportedly escaped prior to the rescue — were abducted by armed men while visiting a relief site in the remote and mountainous Afghan region.

The humanitarian organization has no immediate plans of curtailing its operations in Afghanistan, but Medair spokesman Aurelien Demaurex told the Los Angeles Times the organization would “study” the possibility. Concerns on increasing insecurity in the country have been growing, especially with the impending drawdown of foreign troops.

Eight militants believed to have ties with the Taliban were killed in the attack, Afghan intelligence spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri told The Associated Press. The abductors demanded for the release of five imprisoned colleagues in Kabul in addition to a $1 million ransom. They initially asked for $4 million, according to Tahiri.

Cameron expressed his “delight” over the successful rescue mission and warned terrorists who hostage British nationals to expect a “swift and brutal end.” He hailed the “extraordinary work” done by British aid workers around the world, but said he cannot promise the United Kingdom will be able to save all of them or that “it will end as happily as today,” the Telegraph reports.

The British leader was speaking from experience. Linda Norgrove, a British aid worker kidnapped by the Taliban, was killed in a rescue attempt in October 2010.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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