MSF urges immediate release of abducted aid worker in Chechnya

Kenneth Gluck medically at risk

Press release: Amsterdam/New York, January 12, 2000 - Today, the international medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) together with the family and friends of the abducted MSF coordinator Kenneth Gluck, expressed their extreme concern for his fate and urged his captors to release him.

No news has been heard of Kenneth since he was abducted by unidentified armed men in Chechnya on January 9, 2001. Physically dependent on medicines to control his asthmatic condition, concerns have been expressed that he could suffer a potentially very dangerous asthma attack if he does not receive further medication. MSF is ensuring that stocks of this medication are maintained in MSF offices in the region.

Recent Russian media reports have suggested that MSF was working illegally in Chechnya and have even accused the organisation of purposefully orchestrating the abduction to gain international attention. MSF refutes all such accusations and reiterates that it has been carrying out its operations in the region with the full authorisation of the Russian authorities. All the relevant documents confirming the legal status of MSF operations were offered to the Presidential Aide's office this afternoon with a request for an explanation regarding the previous accusations.

Until now MSF has been providing vital medical assistance to the civilian victims of the armed conflict, supporting and rehabilitating a barely functioning health system and providing essential medicines. Following the recent abduction of Kenneth Gluck, MSF and other international actors, including the UN, have suspended all activities in Chechnya. With the collapsed health system, ongoing fighting and a severe winter, the Chechen people need humanitarian assistance more urgently than ever.