Today is Arjan Erkel's 34th birthday. This will be his second birthday in captivity. Arjan is the MSF Head of Mission in the Russian Republic of Dagestan. He was taken hostage by armed gunmen on August 12, 2002 and to this day remains in captivity. It has been 19 months now.
The birthday comes when MSF has increasingly worrying news about Arjan, a humanitarian aid worker. There are reports that Arjan is suffering from a severe pulmonary infection - a lung problem - that is life threatening.
The second equally distressing news is that his captors have made direct threats against Arjan's life. MSF is continuing its political pressure to successfully resolve this kidnapping of a humanitarian aid worker.
Today the MSF International President Rowan Gillies has meetings with European Union Commissioner, Romano Prodi, and European Parliament President, Pat Cox. MSF maintains its position that the responsibility for the safe return of Arjan is that of the Russian Government.
With the meeting with the European Government representatives, MSF hopes to increase international pressure to ensure Arjan's safe return to his family, friends and MSF. In an interview with CNN yesterday (March 8), the Executive Director of the USA office of MSF gave the following interview.