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Associated Press Newswires - MSF urges Russia to work harder to solve kidnapping of its worker
By KADYR TOKTOGULOV
February 12, 2003
Associated Press Writer
MOSCOW (AP) - The humanitarian aid group Médecins Sans Frontières on Wednesday urged Russia to work harder to solve the kidnapping of a Dutch employee who was abducted nearly six months ago in a region next to Chechnya.
Arjan Erkel was abducted in June in the republic of Dagestan, where he was head of the Northern Caucasus mission of MSF, which is known in English as Doctors Without Borders. Kidnapping of aid workers and other foreigners is widespread both in the war-torn republic of Chechnya and in neighboring republics.
"There is no doubt that the responsibility for resolution of this tragic case lies with the Russian federal authorities. We strongly believe in MSF that more political engagement is necessary at a high level in the Russian Federation," MSF's International president Morten Rostrup said at a news conference.
"We have seen in recent past that hostage situations can be solved, and we really hope that also this shall be the case very soon for Arjan," he said. Rostrup pointed to the case of Nina Davidovich of the Russian organization Friendship, who was released in January six months after being abducted in Chechnya.
"For us this case can also illustrate that if there is enough sufficient political will to engage in such cases, they may be quickly and easily resolved," he said. There has been no contact with the kidnappers, Rostrup said. MSF has called for Erkel's unconditional release and Rostrup said the group will not pay any ransom.
"But we think definitely there is some political element here that needs to be addressed. An when it comes to ransom, as I said to start with, we have not had any contact whatsoever, we don't know anything, we don't have facts," said Rostrup.
Rostrup has also appealed to President Putin to secure the safe release of Erkel. Erkel, a 32-year-old Dutch citizen, is the second employee of the group to be taken hostage in southern Russia. In January 2001, U.S. citizen Kenneth Gluck was held by unidentified gunmen in Chechnya for 25 days.
Tags: Arjan Court Case