Russia

Eurasia Insight: North Caucasus NGO Monitor

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Analysis
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Over the past month the fighting in the North Caucasus has not only continued, but intensified. The new war in Chachnya is currently at is peak as federal troops are storming Grozny and at the same time - moving into the mountains on the south of Chechnya.

This war has already created an immense human tragedy, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (the term, used instead of the term "refugees" by Russian Federal authorities). The largest concentration of IDPs is in Ingushetia - a small region between Chechnya and North Ossetia. This is a tremendous burden on this small republic, and though significant amounts of aid are currently being sent in, they are still far from adequate to mach event the most basic needs. Thus, we would like to appeal to all readers of this "Monitor" to do whatever is possible to assist the IDP's in Ingushetia and the rest of the regions surrounding Chechnya.

1. Ingush Red Crescent Society assisting IDP's from Chechnya.

The Ingush Red Crescent Society was set up in 1992 soon after the tragic Ossetian-Ingush conflict. Since then it was able to help directly a few hundred thousand people, most of them - many times. In addition to this, the Ingush Red Crescent Society assisted the operations carried out by other organisations and relief agencies. All this aid was directed to help IDP's (Internally Displaced Persons) - both from the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia and from Chechnya.

Today the society is focused almost exclusively on assisting IDP's from Chechnya, the majority of whom have fled to neighbouring Ingushetia. Currently there are over 200,000 such IDP's in Ingushetia. Together with the IDP's remaining from the Ossetian-Ingush conflict of 1992 and the "first" war in Chechnya this nearly doubles the population in the small Ingush republic.

The current activities of the Ingush Red Crescent society are focused on delivering clothing to IDP's from Chechnya. Most of the aid is coming from the Russian Red Cross society and ICRC. The society is able to receive and distribute aid from other international organisations, but it may have difficulties taking care of customs formalities.

An important aspect in the work of the Ingush Red Crescent society is that it delivers aid directly "hands in hands". Thus it has full control of the distribution process. It also regularly updates information about the numbers and location of IDP's, since this data constantly changes. This is done through a network of local staff, which the society maintains in all the main IDP locations.

Besides distributing clothing, the Ingush Red Crescent Society plans to open two mobile medical aid centres and is expecting the arrival of a group of qualified physicians from Moscow.

Address: Nazran, Mosckovskaya Street, 35
Ingushetia, Russian Federation

Contact person: Liza Omarhadjieva
Phone: (87322) 26715; 23063

2. Plans for a meeting of Chechen and Ingush NGOs.

A new initiative developed during the meeting of representatives of Nonviolence International with local NGOs in Ingushetia in December, 1999. Leila Tsoroeva, and Ingush NGO activist, whom we wrote about in the "Monitor" proposed organizing a meeting of Chechen and Ingush NGOs, who are currently located on the territory of the Ingush Republic.

This is an important initiative, since today Ingushetia is home for over 200,000 Chechen IDP's. A number of Chechen NGO activists have also moved to Ingushetia and a few of them have been continuing their activities in refugee camps (such as the Centre for Peacemaking and Community Development, which we wrote about in the previous issues).

Though Ingushetia is the only region in the Russian Federation, willing to host Chechen refugees in such large numbers, this became an immense burden on the small republic, overwhelmed with problems of its own. Thus, their are tensions between the local population and the IDP's and these tensions tend to grow.

The aid that is being provided for the IDP's is far from adequate, and many of them feel that they are not getting what is being provided. Also, aid that is being provided is often designated only to refugees from the "current" war in Chechnya, while significant numbers of IDP's who came in to Ingushetia in 1994-96 or during the Ossetian-Ingush conflict in 1992 feel that they have been forgotten.

Thus developing a constructive dialogue between Chechen and Ingush NGOs is especially important in the current environment, since it may help in preventing the growth of inter-ethnic tensions between these closely related peoples.

For more information about the development of this initiative, contact Nonviolence International (address at the end of the "Monitor") or Leila Tsoroeva in Ingushetia.

Leila Tsoroeva's new
address (changed!): Altievo, Tsoroeva Street, 1
Ingushetia, Russian Federation

3. NGO Working Group on Conflict Management and Prevention meets near Moscow.

On November 24-28 a meeting took place in Moscow of approximately 55 organizations, involved in conflict management and resolution activities in the CIS states. This included a number of international organizations, who participated as organizers or as guests. The meeting took place at the "Golitsino" resort near Moscow.

The meeting was a continuation of the activities of the NGO Working Group on Conflict Management and Prevention, which was organized as one of the NGO Working Groups within the framework of the CIS Conference on Refugees and Involuntarily Displaced Persons. It was organized by Nonviolence International, International Alert and the Center for Conflict Management (Kazakhstan) with the financial support of the Open Society Institute, Charity know-how foundation and UNHCR.

As a result of this meeting important practical decisions were made about the structure and strategy of the NGO Working Group, including a decision to formulate a CIS strategy of NGO involvement in conflict management and resolution activities. A wide range of practical ideas about conflict management programs that maybe implemented through local NGOs were formulated during the this meeting. Thus, the NGO Working Group is beginning to develop as a unique network, uniting CIS and international organizations, researchers and practitioners in the field of conflict management and prevention. The important potential of this network is that it may serve not just the goal of early warning, but become a tool of early action.

With this publication we conclude the first stage of publishing an electronic newsletter about constructive NGO activities in conflict regions of the North Caucasus. During a year this publication regularly came out with the support of the Open Society Institute Policy Fellowship Program. We hope that it was instrumental in obtaining information about constructive activities on the local level from regions, which we usually hear about in relationship with military action and immense human suffering.

However, we intend to continue informing about such constructive local NGO activities in the future. We plan to provide more analytical information - our analysis of the developments in the areas of conflict and tensions and recommendations about possible actions, projects and activities there.

We remain open for contacts and suggestions about information that might be of interest or to our readers, and we are certainly willing to provide any assistance we can to those, who, on their part, are willing to help the courageous groups and individuals working in the North Caucasus.

"North Caucasus NGO Monitor" is a publication produced by members of the Nonviolence International - Newly Independent States" (NI-NIS) on a fellowship from the Open Society Institute in Budapest. Its goals are:

  • to help in exploring new approaches for humanitarian activities which allow supporting elements of civil society in the North Caucasus, while significantly lowering the security risks associated with such activities;
  • to provide continuous information about constructive activities of NGOs on a community level in areas of tension and conflict in the North Caucasus;
  • to highlight the work of dedicated local activists, who despite extreme difficulties work toward peace, reconciliation, social and economical revival of their communities.
For questions and comments as well as to get additional information about NGO activities in the North Caucasus please contact:

Nonviolence International - Newly Independent States,

Contact person - Kamenshikov Andre
Luchnikov Lane, house 4, entrance 3, room 2
Moscow, Russia, 103982
Tel. (095) 206-8618 or 351-4855, fax 206-8853,
E-mail: ninis@glasnet.ru
http: www.glasnet.ru/~ninis

The Central Eurasia Project aims, through its website, meetings, papers, and grants, to foster a more informed debate about the social, political and economic developments of the Caucasus and Central Asia. It is a program of the Open Society Institute-New York. The Open Society Institute-New York is a private operating and grantmaking foundation that promotes the development of open societies around the world by supporting educational, social, and legal reform, and by encouraging alternative approaches to complex and controversial issues.

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the position of the Open Society Institute and are are the sole responsibility of the author or authors.