Wednesday 22 January 2020

Tributes to British aid worker murdered in Pakistan

Lauren Turner

TRIBUTES have been paid to a British aid worker whose body was found dumped in an orchard in Pakistan.

Khalil Dale was abducted at gunpoint in January while working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baluchistan province. His kidnappers left a note on his body, saying he had been killed because they had not received a ransom.

The 60-year-old Scot from Dumfries had been awarded the MBE for his humanitarian work overseas. Mr Dale, who changed his name from Ken when he became a Muslim, was engaged to be married and had been living in Pakistan for nearly a year.

Friend and former colleague Sheila Howat worked with Mr Dale at Dumfries Infirmary, where he was a staff nurse, and had known him for 25 years.

She said: "It's unbelievable what they've done to Ken. It's soul destroying. For someone who has given their life, devoted their life, to caring for others - it's just so wrong.

"Ken was an absolutely lovely person who saw good in everybody. He wanted to make the world a better place for people who had nothing. This is why he went to all the war-torn countries to try to make things better, particularly for the children.

"He knew the risks. He was quite aware of them."

Mrs Howat said Mr Dale's fiancee Anne, who is also a nurse, lives in Australia.

She added: "I was so happy that he had finally found happiness. I think their engagement happened quite recently."

Mr Dale, who had shared a home with his mother in Dumfries until her death in 2007, also leaves a brother, who lives in New Zealand.

He was travelling home from a local school, in a clearly-marked ICRC vehicle, when kidnappers bundled him into a car in the city of Quetta on January 5.

The identities of his captors are unknown, but the region is home to separatist and Islamist militants who have kidnapped for ransom before.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I was deeply saddened to hear about the brutal murder of Khalil Dale - a man who was killed whilst providing humanitarian support to others.

"This was a shocking and merciless act, carried out by people with no respect for human life and the rule of law.

"Khalil Dale has dedicated many years of his life to helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world and my thoughts today are with his friends and family."

Foreign Secretary William Hague said he learned of the death "with great sadness", adding that "tireless efforts" had been made over the past months to secure Mr Dale's release.

Mr Hague said: "I utterly condemn the kidnapping and killing of Mr Dale, and send my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones as they come to terms with their tragic and distressing loss.

"This was a senseless and cruel act, targeting someone whose role was to help the people of Pakistan, and causing immeasurable pain to those who knew Mr Dale.

"My thoughts are with them, and with all those who have dedicated their lives to assisting the world's most vulnerable people through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement."

Mr Dale had worked for the ICRC and the British Red Cross for many years, the charity said, having previously been posted in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

British Red Cross chief executive Sir Nick Young said: "Khalil Dale has been a committed member of the Red Cross Red Crescent family for the last 30 years. He was a gentle, kind person, who devoted his life to helping others, including some of the world's most vulnerable people.

"We condemn his abduction and murder in the strongest possible terms. It not only robs him of his life, and his family and co-workers of their loved one and friend - it robs the people he was helping of the expert care they need.

"Care workers like Khalil, and his colleagues in dangerous places all over the world, should be allowed to work free from threats of abduction and violence.

"Khalil first worked overseas for the Red Cross in 1981 in Kenya, distributing food and improving the health of people affected by severe drought. He also worked in Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, before his posting to Pakistan with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"In other words, he did not shy away from the tough assignments, in the name of improving the lives of others. He was a brave man who had the utmost respect of his colleagues in the Red Cross and in the humanitarian world generally."

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "The Scottish Government utterly condemns the brutal murder of Khalil Dale, a man who devoted his life to helping others.

"Mr Dale was a nurse and highly experienced aid worker who had saved many lives in his long service with the International Committee of the Red Cross. He was a brave, skilled and compassionate professional who will be deeply missed.

"He had many friends around the world and regularly travelled back to Dumfries where he was well known and loved.

"My sincere condolences go to his family and friends, and in particular his fiancee Anne and his brother Ian at this very sad time."

Russell Brown, MP for Dumfries and Galloway, said: "Dumfries is a close-knit community, and has been left shocked by the death of Kahlil.

"It is a terrible tragedy, made all the worse by its gruesome nature. The fact that someone could kidnap and murder a man who was in Pakistan to help people is an unspeakable act of barbarity.

"All our thoughts are with his friends and family as they hear the news they have been dreading every day since he was taken.

"Khalil knew his work was dangerous, but he did it anyway because he wanted to assist those in need.

"Everyone in Dumfries is deeply saddened by the awful news, but we are proud of everything Khalil achieved. He will be remembered as someone who spent his life putting others first and he made a real difference to countless people across the world.

"I have spoken to the Foreign Office and will continue to do so in the coming days.

"Even now, we still don't know who kidnapped Kahlil. I want to see the British and Pakistani governments working together to do everything in their power to bring those responsible for this brutal and heinous crime to justice."

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News