International Concern for Life of Kidnapped CARE Worker in Iraq

earlier in the day by militants.  European Union commissioner Poul Nielson said he was "appalled" at the abduction of the British-born CARE official, Margaret Hassan.

"I am appalled to learn about the kidnapping of Margaret Hassan, who chose to dedicate her life to help the Iraqi people," he said in a statement. "Her abduction comes as yet another blow for the humanitarian community, and for all the vulnerable Iraqis benefiting from aid programmes," the Danish official said.

CARE added it was "unaware of the motive for the abduction," but stressed that "as far as we know, Margaret is unharmed."

The kidnapping came as a major set-back for her organization, which had tried to reduce poverty without making political gestures.

"She has been providing humanitarian relief to the people of Iraq in a professional career spanning more than 25 years," CARE said on it Internet website.

"OVERWHELMING CONCERN"

"Needless to say, we are doing whatever we can to secure her release. Our overwhelming concern must be for Margaret’s safety" said CARE International,  a global humanitarian organization coordinated from Brussels.

Hassan, who is married to an Iraqi and is a naturalized Iraqi citizen, has worked for CARE in Iraq since 1992. "CARE has made an outstanding contribution to improving the lives of ordinary Iraqis and helped to counterbalance the effect of sanctions before the war broke out," the EU's Nielson recalled.

Her kidnapping has underscored the dangers of Westerners, including, aid workers. Earlier this month one of them, British contractor Kenneth Bigley, was beheaded by Islamic militants.

Nielson reportedly described her abduction "as yet another blow for the humanitarian community, and for all the vulnerable Iraqis benefiting from aid programs."

Iraq's minority Christians, many of whom help the U.S.-led military operations and reconstruction programs, have also been singled out for kidnappings by militants, human rights groups and church leaders say.  

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