Britain pledges further assistance for Chechnya

International Development Secretary Clare Short today announced the UK will provide further humanitarian assistance for the people of Chechnya.

"We will today make a contribution of =A3900,000 in response to the UN appeal. This is in addition to the =A3500,000 already donated, to help respond to the humanitarian crisis arising from the conflict in Chechnya.

"The situation in the North Caucasus is obviously a major concern. The UN estimates there are now about 220,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) throughout the North Caucasus (excluding Chechnya) and a further 100,000 people staying with host families. Our problem is to find ways of reaching people in need, not in finding resources.

"I am today announcing four grants: $250,000 to UNICEF to meet immediate needs of women and children in the areas of protection, health/nutrition, water supply, sanitation and education; $1 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to meet the food requirements of approximately 150,000 IDPs in Ingushetia; $100,000 to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for national and regional disease surveillance and response; and $100,000 to OCHA for relief work co-ordination. A grant of $811,850 was given to the Red Cross on 9 November to meet basic needs."

The government and the international community has condemned the indiscriminate use of force in Chechnya and the intolerable ultimatum to civilians in Grozny. These issues will be discussed further at the Helsinki European Council.

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