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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Advertiser: Aid worker refused to be scared [21oct04]

Aid worker refused to be scared

A FEISTY, charismatic and fiercely intelligent woman, Margaret Hassan remained in her Baghdad home throughout the war, telling her bosses: "I am staying with my people. This is my home."

There seems little doubt that Care International owes its continued presence in Iraq, long after many other aid agencies had departed, almost entirely to her single-minded determination, her detailed local knowledge and her dedication to the Iraqi people.

A British national from an Irish family and married to an Iraqi, Ms Hassan, 52, also has Iraqi nationality and considers herself Iraqi, friends say. Slightly built, with piercing brown eyes, she speaks fluent Arabic and is a well-known figure on the streets of Baghdad.

While she is Muslim, she does not wear the veil when working.

Like everyone else in the capital, she is careful to alter her daily regime, although she is one of the few Britons still living in the city who is not holed up in the heavily fortified Green Zone where Western embassies and the Iraqi Government are all based.

A close friend said yesterday: "She was not reckless. She knew the risks of kidnapping. She knew of many Iraqis who had been abducted, but she insisted she would not be scared away from doing her job."
The Advertiser: Aid worker refused to be scared [21oct04]

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