MSF Demands Immediate Release of Aid Worker Captured in Chechnya; Condemns Attack on Humanitarian Relief Convoy

New York/Amsterdam, January 10, 2001 — The international humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) strongly condemns the attack on a humanitarian convoy and the capture of an MSF relief worker in Chechnya yesterday. Kenny Gluck, a US citizen, was taken by unidentified armed individuals yesterday afternoon while traveling in a clearly marked humanitarian convoy in western Chechnya. Other members of the relief convoy managed to get away. MSF demands the immediate release of Mr. Gluck unharmed.

MSF entered Ingushetia at the end of 1999, following the resumption of the Chechen conflict, and began assisting the displaced Chechen population. In February 2000, MSF gained access to Chechnya and initiated medical relief projects for the most vulnerable people.

From the beginning of its operations in Chechnya, MSF has always worked with the approval and permission of the civilian and military authorities. MSF does not operate under armed protection as this would compromise the independent, humanitarian principles under which the organization works. At the time of his capture, Mr. Gluck was traveling in an unarmed, humanitarian convoy that had official permission to deliver humanitarian aid supplies to hospitals inside Chechnya.

MSF supports hospitals, maternity wards and dispensaries throughout Chechnya, providing medical supplies and rehabilitating surgery facilities and patient wards. Besides their activities in Chechnya, MSF is also assisting displaced Chechens in neighboring countries with food provision, medical supplies and shelter. Following yesterday's incident, MSF suspended its operations in Chechnya for security reasons.

MSF is an independent, international medical aid organization, whose goal is to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to victims of war, conflict and disasters. This assistance is given without any political, religious or ethnic discrimination.

MSF is primarily funded by donations from the general public in the18 countries where it has representative offices. In 1999, MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its humanitarian work in over 80 countries around the world.