Tragic aid worker Khalil Dale’s service honoured

Khalil Dale was kidnapped in Pakistan while helping people wounded in conflict. Photograph: Jane MacLachlan/PA
Khalil Dale was kidnapped in Pakistan while helping people wounded in conflict. Photograph: Jane MacLachlan/PA
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THE brother of a Scottish aid worker abducted and killed in Pakistan said he would have been “humbled” by being given a top award for his humanitarian work.

Khalil Dale MBE was last night given the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award for 
his decades of work with vulnerable people in some of 
the world’s most dangerous trouble spots.

The award recognises a group or individual who has helped or improved the lives of others or society as a whole through personal self-sacrifice, selfless service or “hands-on” charitable work.

Receiving the award from Humza Yousaf, minister for 
external affairs and international development, Dale’s brother Ian said: “Khalil had a deep affinity with Scotland and, to him, Scotland was always his home so he would have been delighted to be named winner of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award.

“Khalil very much saw himself as someone who just 
got on with his job wherever that happened to be, and he would have been very humbled by this accolade, which is testament to the lives he changed and the legacy he leaves behind.

“Khalil was loved and respected by many people and 
I am extremely proud of my brother – and the work he 
carried out over many years to make a difference for others – has been recognised in such a wonderful way.”

Paul Bush, the chief operating officer for EventScotland, one of the award’s supporters, said: “Khalil’s story is a humbling one, and he truly represented the ethos of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award. His selfless attitude is an inspiration, and I think we can all take something from his story and his efforts to improve the lives of others.”

As part of Dale’s award, his family received a cheque for 1759 guineas – equivalent to around £1,800 in today’s money – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard’s birth and the coinage then in circulation. The family have donated 
the money to the Khalil Dale Memorial Fund.

The 60-year-old British Red Cross aid worker had been part of a programme in 
Quetta, Pakistan, providing healthcare and physical rehabilitation to people wounded in conflict, when he was kidnapped by unidentified armed men while returning home from work last January. His body was recovered last April.

Dale was born Kenneth Robin Dale in York but changed his name to Khalil when he 
became a Muslim.

Starting his working life as a casualty nurse at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Dale went on to become a medic on a North Sea oil rig before studying at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

In 1981, he joined the Red Cross and began a career of humanitarian work overseas – much of it for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. His first posting was to Kenya, where he was 
involved in helping people 
affected by severe drought.

This was followed by many years working in war zones and famine regions, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq and Sudan, where Dale was responsible for food distribution, healthcare and development projects which benefited tens of thousands of people.

He worked in Somalia in the early 1990s, where he succeeded in helping to bring in daily flights with food and medical supplies despite the perilous security situation, for which he was awarded an MBE in 1994.

Dale later said Somalia had been “the most frightening” experience: “I’ve been to Afghanistan. I’ve been to Sudan. I’ve been to a lot of war zones and famine camps and cholera camps. But I’ve never ever seen anything like Somalia was at that time. And it was certainly the most frightening place for me, it was the most insecure, unpredictable. You just didn’t know what was 
going to happen next.”

He returned to Dumfries in 1998 to care for his mother, but continued to help others, working both as a nurse and for Turning Point Scotland – a charity dealing with alcohol addiction and drug and mental health problems. At the beginning of 2011, Dale left Dumfries to take up what would be his last post in Pakistan.

Twitter: @sloan1874