Stoke Newington Aid worker in Afghanistan rescued by British and US special forces

Helen Johnston free after 12 day ordeal. Photo: Foreign Office


A Stoke Newington woman held hostage in Afghanistan along with 3 other aid workers, was freed after a daring night time raid on cave in remote north west Afghanistan.

Helen Johnston along with her Kenyan colleague Moragwa Oirere and two Afghan civilians,  are all employees of  Medair, a Swiss based humanitarian NGO in Luassane.  The group were abducted on May 22 while traveling by donkey, to grief stricken area in northern Badakhshan province. A fifth hostage escaped shortly after the group was captured.

Before their rescue,  their captors armed with machine gun rifles and rocket propelled grenades, moved them from cave to cave to avoid detection.

A nutritionist, Helen Johnston studied at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, prior to taking up her position in Afghanistan.

Her parents Philip and Patricia along with her brother Peter, released a statement saying; “We are delighted and hugely relieved by the wonderful news that Helen and all her colleagues have been freed. We are deeply grateful to everyone involved in her rescue, to those who worked tirelessly on her behalf, and to family and friends for their love, prayers and support over the last twelve days.”

In an interview with the Evening Standard last November, Helen spoke of her life and work in Afghanistan, describing it as tough and grueling.  “It can be frustrating and hard, but there is no doubt that there is a fundamental need for us to be here. Too many children are suffering for us not to be,” she was quoted saying.

David Cameron who along with the commander of  Nato and US forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen authorized the raid said  “It was an extraordinarily brave, breath-taking even, operation that our troops had to carry out. I pay tribute to their skill and dedication”.

Ms Johnston is reported to be  safe at the British Embassy in Kabul.

About Remi

Remi Hackney Hive founder, publisher and contributor. Hackneyite and all round Girl Friday who couldn't wait to leave Hackney and London behind her. After hitching her wagon in California, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana for 18 years, with a brief spell in Mexico, the prodigal daughter returned to London, happy to put an unconventional and risqué past behind her. It sometimes feels like she’s still at war with herself. This often leads her into a whole lot of trouble, although it’s fair to blame it on some of her best qualities: intelligence, original thinking, willingness to take risks, skepticism, rebelliousness, independence, and creativity. But you know what, much of the trouble she gets into is because she can’t help pointing out that the emperor is naked. Remi still lives by her own rules, nobody else’s. She is owned by her two dogs Deffer(a Jack Russell ) Darcy (a Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix now deceased but can’t remove their names) and two Black cats she adopted December 2021, Desmond and Tutu. She is proprietor of London’s finest and long established pet sitting service. The big smoke is home for the moment, but she desperately yearns wide open spaces, where she hopes to call home in the near future.


View all Posts Visit Website

You must be logged in to post a comment Login