European Parliament calls for Russia to pursue the release of kidnapped MSF volunteer, Arjan Erkel

MSF has launched an international campaign for the release of the MSF volunteer Arjan Erkel. 

The European Parliament has raised the issue of Arjan Erkel, the MSF volunteer who was kidnapped in Dagestan - a Russian republic neighbouring Chechnya - on August 12, 2002 and have called for the Russian Government to make all efforts to have him freed.

On January 16, the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg passed a resolution calling upon 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."

Arjan Erkel was abducted by unidentified gunmen in Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan. After five months, efforts by the authorities to solve the case have yielded no information as to Arjan's whereabouts or his state of health.

In the debate surrounding the resolution, Mr. Arie Oostlander, Dutch MEP, said, "Mister Erkel, who was the head of mission for MSF in Daghestan, the neighbouring territory to Chechnya, is kidnapped. We do not know by whom. There is no ransom asked...Questions have been asked by me to the Commission and to Council on this subject. Colleagues of diverse other parties have underlined this as well and are fully supporting this. We wish that the Commission makes efforts to find what has happened to Mr. Erkel and enquires whether he can not be released."

Mr. Fodé Sylla, French MEP, said "the keeping in captivity of a humanitarian worker is something rather scandalous."

MSF demands from Arjan's abductors that they respect his physical and mental integrity and release him unharmed.