United Nations suspends North Caucasus aid operation in solidarity with Arjan Erkel

Moscow, 13 February 2003. - The United Nations agencies in the Russian Federation have decided to suspend for one day their humanitarian programmes in the North Caucasus in solidarity with the head of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mission in Dagestan, Arjan Erkel, abducted in Dagestan on 12 August 2002.
The United Nations remains deeply concerned about the fate of Mr Arjan Erkel and joins MSF in its numerous appeals for the safe and immediate release of Mr Erkel. The UN condemns Mr Erkel's abduction and wishes to underscore once again that such actions undermine the effective provision of humanitarian assistance to the thousands of civilians in need in the North Caucasus.

The United Nations greatly appreciates the efforts of the Russian authorities in securing the release of Nina Davydovich, head of the Russian non-governmental organization Druzhba, on 7 January, and hopes that everything possible will be done to secure Mr Erkel's release. It also reiterates its solidarity with the hundreds civilians, abducted in the North Caucasus in recent years, and calls on those responsible to ensure their safe return.

For further information, please contact the United Nations' public information officer on this issue, Ms Victoria Zotikova, on (095) 956-6405.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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