August 21, 2002

Geneva, August 22, 2002 — Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has decided to maintain the suspension of its activities in Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan. The decision to suspend had been taken by MSF following the abduction of Arjan Erkel, MSF's head of mission in Dagestan, as well as of Nina Davydovich, head of Druzhba, a Russian NGO in Chechnya.

MSF still has no information regarding Arjan Erkel, Head of Mission in Dagestan, abducted on August 12th in Makhachkala. MSF remains extremely concerned about Arjan's fate and asks for his immediate and unconditional release.

MSF operations in Ingushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya are thus put on hold until further notice. In order to keep contact with the population and follow closely the evolution of the situation, all MSF offices in Makhachkala, Khazaviurt and Nazran remain open. MSF provides health care to thousands of persons through mobile clinics in Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan, with special attention given to mother and child care. Some programmes are as well dedicated to their improvement of shelter, water and sanitation conditions in the area. Furthermore, MSF provides drugs and medical material to various health structures in Chechnya.

MSF employs nearly 200 national staff and over 20 international staff in the region.

MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides medical and humanitarian assistance to victims of war, conflicts and disasters. This assistance is given without political, religious or ethnic discrimination. MSF is independent and is mainly funded by public donations from the 18 countries where it has representative offices.

For further information, please contact MSF in Geneva: Marc Joly + 41 79 449 44 63 or+41 22 849 84 15