Clementina Cantoni, an Italian aid worker abducted May 16 while working for CARE International in Kabul, was released yesterday after being held hostage for 24 days. Cantoni had managed CARE’s “Humanitarian Assistance for Women” project since 2003. At a news conference following her release, Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali told reporters that the negotiations that led to her release were ultimately successful because of an outpouring of support by Afghan, Italian, and other world leaders and organizations, reports the LA Times. Additionally, women helped by CARE International organized several demonstrations in Kabul calling for her release, according to the BBC.
Cantoni’s abduction in May marked yet another attack against aid workers in an increasingly dangerous situation for aid organization staff in Afghanistan. Women in particular have been the targets of this increasing violence. According to a report from the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office and CARE in May, “the unprecedented number” of fatalities among workers for non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance is impacting their ability to reach those who need assistance.