British hostage David Haines 'a fantastic man and father'

Humanitarian worker David Haines, who was apparently killed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, was described by his family as a fantastic man and father who would give help to anyone who needed it. -- PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF DA
Humanitarian worker David Haines, who was apparently killed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, was described by his family as a fantastic man and father who would give help to anyone who needed it. -- PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF DAVID CAWTHORNE HAINES 

LONDON - Mr David Haines, a 44-year-old father of two apparently killed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, had a career which had taken him to some of the world's most turbulent regions.

Mr Haines, originally from Perth in Scotland, was last year captured in a refugee camp in Atmeh in northern Syria while working as a security consultant for the French aid agency Acted. He was the third Western hostage - and first Briton - paraded on camera by the extremist organisation.

"David has been working as a humanitarian since 1999, helping victims of conflict in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East," Acted said in a statement. "A man's life should never be threatened on account of his humanitarian commitment."

Mr Haines had married twice and had one daughter, aged 17, from his first marriage and a second daughter, aged four, from his marriage to a Croatian woman named Dragana, with whom he lived in Zagreb, Croatia, according to the Telegraph.

Born in Holderness, East Yorkshire, Mr Haines was raised in Scotland and attended Perth Academy. His parents live in Ayr, BBC reported.

After leaving school, he worked for Royal Mail, before joining the Royal Air Force as an aircraft engineer. He served in the UN mission in the Balkans, where, according to a family statement, he "helped whoever needed help, regardless of race, creed or religion".

After leaving the RAF, he worked for train operator Scotrail, before beginning his career in humanitarian work. His postings for international aid agencies took him to some of the most dangerous places in the world.

On his LinkedIn profile, he wrote that he had 23 years of "working experience in private, NGO and military environments," referring to nongovernmental organisations.

Before Acted, Mr Haines worked in South Sudan in 2012 for a Belgium-based organisation, Nonviolent Peaceforce, which describes itself as an "unarmed, civilian peacekeeping force" and operates in South Sudan, Myanmar, and the Philippines.

He also worked as a country director for Handicap International, a disability charity, in Libya during the Arab Spring.

During his captivity he tried to hide his military background, a former hostage said, but like many of the others held in a cell in Raqqa he was repeatedly tortured, one of his former cellmates said.

"He's everything to us. He's our life. He's a fantastic man and father," Dragana told media shortly after the ISIS threatened to kill him.

"Nobody can understand how we are feeling. My daughter keeps asking about him every day. She hasn't seen her father for a year and a half. She has gone through so much. She sees me crying all the time."

SOURCE: BBC, NEW YORK TIMES, ABC NEWS, THE TELEGRAPH