July 7, 2003
On July 3, the European Parliament (EP) called on the Russian authorities to step up their efforts to find and free Arjan Erkel, the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) volunteer who was abducted by unknown gunmen in the Russian Republic of Dagestan on August 12, 2002.
The 33-year old Arjan Erkel headed MSF's programs responding to the needs of people displaced by the war in neighboring Chechnya. Almost eleven months later, neither Arjan's family nor MSF have received any information regarding his whereabouts, although Russian officials continue to assure that Arjan is alive.
In the July 3 resolution, the EP also called on the Russian Government to facilitate "access to the region for international humanitarian organizations such as ECHO and UNICEF, the personnel of the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the UN, NGOs and, in particular, humanitarian health organizations, providing security and giving permission for the import of necessary technical and security equipment".
The EP passed a similar resolution on January 16, 2003 calling on the "Russian Government to pursue maximum efforts to secure the early release of Mr. Erkel, a humanitarian MSF worker, who remains kidnapped in the region".
MSF demands that Arjan's abductors respect his physical and mental integrity and release him unharmed.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)