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Doctors Without Borders Head of Mission Remains Missing

Relief Operations Resume in Ingushetia

Geneva, September 10, 2002 - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) strongly reiterates its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Arjan Erkel, Head of Mission in Dagestan, abducted on August 12, 2002, in Makhachkala. MSF once again condemns the kidnapping of humanitarian workers in the Northern Caucasus. However, MSF has decided to resume its activities in Ingushetia. This decision has been taken for the sake of the thousands of civilians in the republic who are in need of assistance after nearly a month of a suspension of activities.

MSF operations in Ingushetia begin again today. MSF distributes essential drugs and medical material to over thirty hospitals and clinics in Ingushetia. General, gynecological, and prenatal consultations are given to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the local population through clinics and mobile clinics. MSF also runs pediatric consultations in Ingushetia as well as carries out water and sanitation activities in IDP communities, rehabilitates shelters, and distributes relief items.

MSF has decided to restart its activities in Ingushetia in order to continue its policy of attending to the humanitarian and medical needs of the IDPs and the civilian population.

Activities were suspended in Chechnya following the kidnapping of Nina Davydovich, head of Druzhba, a Russian non-governmental organization. All of MSF's operations in the Northern Caucasus were suspended after the kidnapping of Arjan Erkel, MSF's head of mission in Dagestan.

Activities in Dagestan and Chechnya continue to be suspended. In Chechnya, however, MSF will continue to provide direct life-saving assistance in case of emergencies that include cooperation with surgical and maternity units. In order to monitor developments, MSF offices in Makhachkala, Khazaviurt, and Grozny remain open.

MSF will continue to actively seek the immediate and unconditional release of Arjan Erkel, 32, a Dutch national, who is still missing after his abduction by three gunmen in Makhachkala, Dagestan, on August 12, 2002.