MSF Demands Unconditional Release of Arjan Erkel

MSF Offices In Dagestan Remain Open, Operations Continue To Be Suspended

Geneva, August 19, 2002 — Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is very concerned about the fate of Arjan Erkel and demands his unconditional release. MSF continues to suspend relief operations in Dagestan but its offices in Makhachkala and Khazaviurt remain open.

MSF demands the unconditional release of Arjan Erkel, a Dutch national and Head of Mission of the Swiss section of MSF, who was abducted last Monday, August 12th, in Makhachkala.

Since then the organization has received no news from Arjan and is extremely concerned about his fate. MSF offices in Makhachkala and Khazaviurt remain open, however, all field operations in Khazaviurt and Tsumada region are suspended. MSF had been providing health care to thousands of displaced persons in this area and had also been assisting with housing and sanitation. More than 50,000 Dagestani people were benefiting from improved access to health care through MSF's mobile clinics and the provision of drugs and medical equipment to several medical structures in the Tsumada, Botlikh, Novolak and Khazaviurt districts.

The recent kidnapping of Arjan as well as that of Ms. Nina Davidovich demonstrate the risks civilians and relief workers run in this conflict-ridden 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: Michel Clerc +41 79 449 44 63 or+41 22 849 84 37.