Russia

Humanitarian action in the North Caucasus information bulletin 1 - 15 Jan 2003

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I HIGHLIGHTS
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Welcomes the Release of Nina Davydovich

In a statement on 10 January, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr Kenzo Oshima, welcomed the release on 9 January of Nina Davydovich, head of the Russian NGO Druzhba, who had been abducted in the Republic of Chechnya on 23 July 2002. In the statement, Mr Oshima thanked the Russian authorities for their efforts in securing Ms Davyovich's release after more than five months. The Emergency Relief Coordinator also expressed his "extreme concern" about the fate of Mr Arjan Erkel, a volunteer for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) who was abducted on 12 August in the Republic of Dagestan. Mr Oshima joined MSF in their call for the safe and immediate release of Mr Erkel. Mr Oshima underscored the solidarity of the UN humanitarian community with the hundreds of civilians who have been abducted in Chechnya in recent years, and called on those responsible for those abductions to ensure the safe return of their victims.

Chechen Authorities Set the Date for Constitutional Referendum

The electoral commission of Chechnya scheduled a referendum on the draft constitution of the Republic of Chechnya for 23 March. The commission set the date after it had recognized the validity of signatures, collected by the initiative group in support of the referendum. The group collected 13,200 signatures instead of 12,000 required by law. The invalidity ratio is under 7 percent against the legally permitted maximum of 25 percent, the commission reported. According to the RF President's Special Representative for Human Rights in Chechnya, Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, the draft constitution will soon be sent for examination to the Council of Europe.

European Commission Provides Additional Funds for Humanitarian Aid Operations

The European Commission has granted €3 million of humanitarian aid to provide food for victims of the Chechen crisis. The recipients will include IDPs and the most vulnerable sections of the resident population in Chechnya plus IDPs from Chechnya in the neighbouring Ingushetia, a total of 253,000 people. The money will be allocated via the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), and will enable the World Food Programme (WFP) to continue essential relief operations for beneficiaries in the North Caucasus throughout the winter.

II HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Protection

According to the database, co-funded by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and operated by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), as of 1 January, about 103,000 IDPs from Chechnya resided in Ingushetia, including over 19,000 in tent camps. The population in need of various types of assistance in Chechnya amounted to about 550,000 people. In the first two weeks of 2003, 81 families (451 people) returned to Chechnya with assistance of authorities. Vesta NGO, a UNHCR partner, monitoring population movements at two checkpoints between Chechnya and Ingushetia, reported that 214 persons spontaneously returned to Chechnya, and 149 arrived in Ingushetia. UNHCR and its partner, the Caucasian Refugee Council, continued assisting 38 families (235 persons), who were under immediate threat of eviction from a temporary settlement in Sleptsovskaya, to find alternative accommodation. Alternative shelter was already found for 2 IDP families, evicted from host families in Bert-Yurt and in Nazranovsky raion.

Shelter and Non-food Items

By mid-January, UNHCR erected 11 "box-tents" in Aki-Yurt village in Ingushetia, which are all now occupied by IDPs, who had lived in the former Iman camp either in adobe huts or in tents. Two more "box-tents" were erected on the territory of the former camp, where 11 families (65 persons) are still residing in 8 adobe huts. In addition, UNHCR was assessing the situation of 37 families from the Iman camp, residing with host families in Aki-Yurt village, who wanted to move to "box-tents". Gas, electricity, and water continued to be supplied to IDP settlements in Aki-Yurt, as well as to a school, a canteen, and a rehabilitation centre on the territory of the former Iman camp.

In Ingushetia, Help, a German NGO, continued assisting IDPs from Chechnya, accommodated in host families, temporary settlements and tent camps, with non-food items. In coordination with UNHCR, the NGO identified IDP families in need of heating facilities. As a priority, it provided stoves to IDPs, who had to move from the Iman camp, including to those accommodated in UNHCR-erected "box-tents. By mid-January about 700 stoves were distributed, as well as a supply of firewood to IDP families without or with insufficient access to gas. The on-going distribution of bed items will reach 10,000 IDP families.

Health

In Ingushetia, the World Health Organization (WHO), in co-operation with the National Research Centre for Antibiotics, was studying the aetiology of different types of infectious diseases under its programme of strengthening the rational drug use component in emergency health care and of containment of morbidity caused by infectious diseases. The bacteriological study to detect drug resistance prevalence was carried out by trained personnel of the Ingush sanitary epidemiological surveillance service (SES), in partnership with Medecins Sans Frontieres -- France (MSF-F) and the World Vision (MV). The final report will summarise key results and will include recommendations for introduction of rational antibacterial therapy and optimisation of drug supplies to the region.

Education

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) had several meetings with officials of the Ministry of Education of Chechnya on improving the quality of teaching and strengthening the professional skills of teachers who work in IDP camps. During the winter vacations children from schools in Grozny, supported by UNICEF and run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), were involved in recreational activities. The Ministry of Education of Chechnya and the Municipal Centre for Children's Creative Activities assisted in these initiatives. In Ingushetia, a group of IDP adolescents graduated from a vocational training course, organised by the Centre for Peacemaking and Community Development (CPCD) with support of UNICEF. A new group, enrolled in January, will study English language, computer skills, and cookery.

Water and Sanitation

In Chechnya, UNICEF, together with the Polish Humanitarian Organisation (PHO), continued delivering potable water to Grozny residents with the average daily capacity of over 360 m3 per day, enough to satisfy the needs of approximately 24,000 beneficiaries. To improve the environmental situation in the city, UNICEF, in partnership with PHO, continued maintaining sanitation activities at schools and hospitals: sewage removal was conducted with the daily capacity of over 10 m3.

Mine Action*

In Grozny, the Voice of the Mountains, a UNICEF partner, began enrolling new students to a vocational training course, which will enable about 30 adolescent mine/UXO (unexploded ordinance) victims to study English and computer. Minga NGO, another UNICEF partner, distributed 15 wheelchairs, as well as sticks and crutches, in Argun and in Shalinsky, Achkhoi-Martanovsky, and Kurchaloyevsky raions of Chechnya. The UNICEF/WHO-supported prosthetic centre in Vladikavkaz completed treatment of 5 mine/UXO-affected children, who were fitted with prostheses in 2002. The centre started using a new UNICEF-purchased treadmill to teach patients to walk on prostheses, and a stimulator, which helps to prepare muscles for fitting. Psychologists from the New Education NGO consulted 12 traumatised children and women during their visits to the prosthetic centre.

* Mine action in this report refers to one or a combination of the following activities: mine awareness, victim assistance, and vocational training.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.