Up to August 12, MSF had 21 expatriate staff (based in Moscow, Nazran, Makhachkala and Khazavjurt) and 170 locally employed staff and volunteers carrying out operations in the region. MSF ran multiple programmes aimed at improving the lives and health of civilians. These projects were suspended immediately after the kidnapping of MSF volunteer, Arjan Erkel on August 12.
MSF deeply regrets having been forced to suspend its operations for security reasons. It is, however, also unacceptable that humanitarian relief workers whose sole aim it is to help populations in an impartial and indiscriminate way, are being kidnapped. MSF is very concerned about the fate of Arjan Erkel and demands his unconditional release.
An overview of the conditions faced in the Northern Caucasus and the programmes currently suspended follows.
Immediately after the kidnapping of Arjan Erkel, MSF's Head of Mission for Dagestan, in the regional capital of Makhachkala on the evening of August 12, MSF suspended all its operations in the region. MSF had already stopped its programmes in Chechnya on July 29 in response to the kidnapping of Ms. Nina Davidovich, head of the Russian non-governmental organization Druzhba. However the MSF offices in Dagestan and in the rest of the northern Caucasus remain open.