Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 30

Medecins Sans Frontieres issued a strong protest on August 12 over the lack of progress in a case involving its kidnapped volunteer–Arjan Erkel. Dr. Morten Rostrup, head of MSF, called the failure to produce results a “scandal,” one that he said “can only be attributed to the mishandling of the investigation and a lack of commitment by Russian authorities.” A citizen of Holland, Erkel was abducted in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, in August of 2002.

Dr. Rostrup said that “to our dismay, the investigation was halted in November 2002 and only reopened in May 2003. We were not told of this but instead authorities kept assuring us they were doing everything to secure Arjan’s release.” He also criticized western governments for being “reluctant…to hold the Russian authorities accountable for their lack of commitment in resolving this case.”

Erkel had been head of MSF’s operations in Dagestan, just east of Chechnya. Since his kidnapping MSF has slashed the size of its staff in that Russian province from about fifty people to about fifteen, the BBC Russian Service reports. A demonstration echoing MSF’s demands took place in front of the Russian Federation’s embassy in Holland.