Russia

Humanitarian action in the North Caucasus information bulletin 15 - 31 Dec 2002

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I. HIGHLIGHTS
UN Secretary General Extends Condolences to Russian Federation

On 27 December, the United Nations Secretary-General wrote to President Putin extending his condolences to the people and Government of the Russian Federation and, in particular, to the families of those killed and injured after the blast which occurred at a Russian Government building in Grozny on that day. In the letter the Secretary-General stressed that "such acts cannot advance any cause and only add to the suffering of a region that has endured so much already."

State Duma Adopts a Resolution on Normalising the Situation in Chechnya

On 24 December, the Sate Duma adopted a resolution "On Normalising the Situation in the Republic of Chechnya." The Duma Commission for Political Settlement and Human Rights in the Republic of Chechnya drafted the document. The deputies propose to continue the withdrawal of the Ministry of the Defence and the Ministry of the Interior forces from the republic. According to the resolution, it is necessary to work out a comprehensive concept of political settlement and national reconciliation in Chechnya and to speed up the realisation of the federal targeted programme of social and economic reconstruction of the republic. The resolution proposes to announce 2003 in Russia the Year of Peace, National Reconciliation and Reconstruction in Chechnya.

OSCE Mandate in Chechnya not Extended

Following the lack of agreement to prolong the mandate of the OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya, the European Union Presidency, Denmark, and other states including the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States, expressed deep regret that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) would have to cease its activities in Chechnya after 31 December 2002. According to the existing mandate, the OSCE Assistance Group should, inter alia, promote respect for human rights, help foster the development of democratic institutions, support the creation of mechanisms guaranteeing the rule of law, and promote the peaceful resolution of the crisis. The EU Presidency statement said that on these issues the Assistance Group had carried out important work that ought to be continued. It urged the Russian Federation to resume negotiations immediately concerning a continued OSCE presence in Chechnya.

II. HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Protection

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continued monitoring the situation in IDP camps in Ingushetia. IDPs confirmed that the authorities had recently reduced their activities with regard to IDP return to Chechnya. Some IDPs wished to return in spring, while others expressed a desire to remain in Ingushetiya. During the month of December over 290 families (1,700 IDPs) returned to Chechnya from all IDP camps in Ingushetia in an organised manner. Another 380 IDPs returned to Chechnya on their own. After the explosion at the administration's building in Grozny on 27 December 2002, 93 people arrived in Ingushetia from Chechnya on 28 and 29 December.

Food

In the reporting period, the World Food Programme (WFP), together with it NGO partners, distributed about 540 MTs of mixed food commodities to IDPs in tent camps and settlements in Ingushetia. In Chechnya, it provided around 800 MTs of basic food commodities to beneficiaries of the WFP relief distribution, school-feeding and institutional feeding projects. Due to the delay in delivery of WFP food commodities to Nazran (Ingushetia) the December food distribution cycle in Chechnya and Ingushetia was extended till mid-January 2003.

Shelter and Non-food Items

According to the UNHCR database, out of 277 families (1, 771 persons) who used to reside in the Iman tent camp prior to its closure, 129 families (777 persons) returned to Chechnya. Over 100

families (694 persons) remained in Ingushetia, including 23 families (172 persons) who continued living in adobe huts on the site of the former camp. Others settled down in settlements or with host families mainly in Aki-Yurt village and in other places in Ingushetia. Another 43 families (300 persons) were not physically present in the camp during UNHCR's mid-November check. UNHCR erected 20 "box-tents" for IDPs in Ingushetia, including 11 "box-tents" in the Aki-Yurt village for IDPs who had lived in adobe huts. The new shelters were connected to gas and electricity lines.

Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) delivered information booklets on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STI) awareness and prevention and condoms to Ingushetia for distribution to the medical institutions dealing with HIV and STI prevention and control in Ingushetia and Chechnya. The agency continued realising its programme of assistance to disabled IDPs: the Vladikavkaz prosthetic centre manufactured 19 prosthesis under the latest agreement with WHO. The agency invited chief doctors from 3 TB dispensaries in Grozny to visit Ingushetia to be acquainted with its TB control programme in the republic and to receive appropriate training on WHO TB control strategy. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) delivered 2 refrigerators to the Republican Paediatric Polyclinic in Grozny for the Expanded Programme of Immunisation in Chechnya. In addition, the agency carried out an awareness campaign by distributing UNICEF vaccination cards to women visiting health facilities. UNICEF, under its programme of Mother and Child Health Care, donated essential drugs, medical consumables and 4 mother and child health care kits to the Republican Paediatric Hospital in Grozny.

After the blast, which occurred at the Government building in Grozny on 27 December the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided medicines and other emergency medical supplies to three hospitals in Grozny treating the wounded.

Education

UNICEF, together with its NGO partners, organised New Year performances and shows at schools in IDP camps in Ingushetia with participation of children themselves. In addition, New Year gifts were distributed to children in A, B, Bart, Satzita, and Sputnik camps, as well as in settlements and kindergartens in Grozny. The People in Need Foundation (PINF) distributed textbooks for 1-11 grades and education kits, provided by UNICEF, to school children in 4 IDP settlements in Ingushetia. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) organised seminars on anti-drug habits for over 200 adolescents at UNICEF-supported schools in 6 IDP settlements, which the NGO runs.

Mine Action*

UNICEF supported a New Year presentation by the Russian Academic Theatre in Vladikavkaz in the framework of the agency's mine action programme, attended by 200 IDP children. The Voice of the Mountains (VoM), a UNICEF partner conducted mine risk education sessions for over 1,700 school children in Chechnya and for 331 IDP children from Chechnya, residing in North Ossetia. In Grozny, 35 adolescent mine/UXO (unexploded ordinance) victims graduated from a UNICEF-supported vocational training course, run by VoM. UNICEF delivered five pieces of prosthetic equipment to the prosthetic centre in Vladikavkaz, which completed the treatment of 10 mine/UXO-affected children, fitting them with artificial limbs or providing orthopaedic shoes. The UNICEF-founded football team of children-mine victims won the second prise at a junior tournament for amputees in Moscow.

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

Produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
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