Poul Nielson welcomes the release of aid worker in Chechnya

Brussels, 10 January 2003 - "I am both pleased and relieved to learn that Nina Davydovitch, the Head of the Russian Aid Organisation Druzhba, who was abducted in Chechnya on 23 July, is now free and safe. However, I remain concerned that Arjan Erkel, the Head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Daghestan who was abducted there on 12 August, is still held hostage. This kidnapping led to the suspension of MSF's operations in Daghestan and in Chechnya. I call on all the parties involved to ensure his immediate and safe release."


Arjan Erkel is the Head of Mission of MSF-Switzerland in Daghestan, which is working there with financial support from ECHO. MSF has suspended its operations in the region due to the kidnapping. This has a direct humanitarian impact on the population there. MSF is one of ECHO's few medical partners in the Northern Caucasus. Since the beginning of the second Chechnya conflict, ECHO has allocated more than €90 million in support of the victims of the conflict. €28 million Euro of this was spent in 2002 alone.