‘MSF: Court orders aid group to repay ransom for humanitarian worker’

Just so you don’t think I am an MSF lackey, here is an article from the Guardian about the the Swiss supreme court ruling that MSF must repay the Dutch government one quarter (250,000 Euros) of the ransom that was paid for the release of Arjan Erkel, an MSF volunteer that was kidnapped in 2002 in Dagestan.  Here’s an excerpt but please be sure to read the entire article:

Arjan Erkel, a Dutch citizen and MSF head of mission, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in August 2002 and held in the Russian region of Dagestan for 20 months. He was released after the ransom was paid by the Dutch government, which said the sum was a “loan” to MSF at the aid group’s request. The Dutch government says it does not deal with kidnappers and never pays ransom.

But MSF said it never asked for a loan and was kept in the dark about the ransom. “They [the Dutch government] were the ones negotiating and they were the ones claiming responsibility for it after the release, although obviously they didn’t mention then that money was paid,” said Captier.

Humanitarian workers have expressed fears that the Swiss court’s verdict reflects a disrespect for the often perilous work of aid agencies in conflict zones.

Read on…

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