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Humanitarian action in the North Caucasus information bulletin 16 - 31 Jan 2003

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I. HIGHLIGHTS
UNHCR Assesses the Situation with IDPs in Chechnya and Ingushetia

From 27-29 January, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) undertook a mission to assess the situation of IDPs from Chechnya residing in tent camps in Ingushetia and in temporary accommodation centers (TACs) in Chechnya. In Ingushetia, the team met IDPs who had moved from the former Iman tent camp to "box-tents" in Aki-Yurt village, and visited camps A and B. Despite the difficulties the IDPs are facing in Ingushetia, the majority strongly desired to stay there, citing insecurity as the main reason for not wanting to return to Chechnya. In Chechnya, the UNHCR team, accompanied by the UN Deputy Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the North Caucasus, met IDPs families in Grozny, benefiting from the UNHCR- funded project "one dry warm room." In 2002, to the People in Need Foundation (PINF), a UNHCR partner, delivered construction materials to over 600 families, which used them to repair their damaged houses. In addition, the mission visited two TACs in Grozny.

PACE Delegation Visits North Caucasus

From 20-23 January, a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) visited the Russian Federation, including Chechnya and Ingushetia. Lord Judd, Rudolf Bindig, and Tadeusz Iwinski, the Assembly's rapporteurs on Chechnya, held high-level meetings in Moscow and then traveled to the North Caucasus to assess the political, human rights, and humanitarian situation on the ground. In Grozny, the delegation met representatives of local authorities and visited a TAC. In Ingushetia, it had a meeting with President Zyazikov and visited Bart IDP tent camp. Even before the visit ended, Lord Judd called for the constitutional referendum in Chechnya set for 23 March to be postponed. In a resolution based on the results of the mission, PACE expressed concern that "the necessary conditions for holding the referendum are unlikely to be met by this date. It therefore called upon the competent authorities "to take essential steps to achieve such conditions."

II. HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Protection

In the reporting period, 95 families (518 persons) returned to Chechnya with the assistance of the authorities. Monitors of a UNHCR partner NGO, Vesta, who register population movements at two checkpoints on the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya, reported that 155 persons spontaneously returned to Chechnya and 98 arrived in Ingushetia.

Food

In January, the World Food Programme (WFP) allocated over 2,300 MTs of food commodities for about 287,000 beneficiaries in Chechnya and Ingushetia. The full food basket for relief distribution in both republics consisted of 10 kg of wheat flour, 1 L of vegetable oil, and 0,15 kg of iodised salt. In Chechnya, the ongoing cycle of distribution will reach about 135,000 vulnerable people with about 1,000 MTs of food. Under its school-feeding project, WFP allocated about 160 MTs of food commodities to its partner NGOs to provide hot meals to about 43,000 primary school children on a daily basis. In Grozny and Groznensky Rural raion, about 5,000 people will benefit from the WFP food-for-work project. In Ingushetia, WFP allocated over 1,100 MTs of food to it partner NGOs for distribution among more than 100,000 IDPs.

Shelter and Non-food Items

By 31 January, UNHCR erected 40 "box-tents" on the territory of Ingushetia including 14 for former inhabitants of the tent camp Iman in Aki-Yurt village. IDPs already moved to 27 of them. UNHCR will also provide "box-tents" to four IDP families who are under immediate threat of eviction from four adobe huts still located on the territory of the former Iman tent camp, as well as to three IDP families residing in neighbouring temporary settlements. Gas, electricity, and water continued to be supplied to settlements in Aki-Yurt as well as to a school, a canteen and a rehabilitation centre on the territory of the former Iman tent camp. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) supported a distribution of winter shoes to 60,000 primary school children in Chechnya and Ingushetia, carried out by PINF.

Health

In Chechnya, the World Health Organization (WHO) distributed toys and sports items to four NGO-operated children's psychosocial rehabilitation centres under its programme of psychosocial assistance to IDP children. In the framework of the prosthetic assistance programme for the war-wounded IDPs from Chechnya, WHO arranged for a weekly transportation of 4-6 persons to the Vladikavkaz prosthetic centre for measurements and fittings of prosthetic appliances. The agency purchased 3,000 respiratory masks for medical personnel and patients of the Ingush TB service. In addition, WHO organised a training course on rational pharmacotherapy of the most common infectious diseases for 13 health care workers from Chechnya and Ingushetia in Moscow, as well as a training of trainers workshop on the WHO Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) Strategy for 16 representatives of state medical structures from Chechnya and Ingushetia in Rostov-on-Don.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation and the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SDC/SHA), under their AIDS prevention campaign, distributed 2,000 booklets "The Most Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about AIDS" among adolescents in North Ossetia. In Ingushetia, 1,000 booklets intended for teenagers were distributed at schools and colleges. Both brochures are adapted to local traditions and customs, and approved of by republican ministries of health and education.

Education

UNICEF continued supporting 59 NGO-run schools in IDP tent camps and settlements in Ingushetia, where about 10,000 children are enrolled. The overall attendance in IDP schools ranges from 82% to 91.5%, which is considered to be satisfactory for the winter season. During the winter school holidays PINF, a UNICEF implementing partner, sponsored a 10-day tour of a child folk dancing group from Sputnik camp to the Czech Republic. The children visited several Czech towns where they performed traditional Chechen folk dances and benefited from socialising with local children. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), supported by UNICEF, opened a new sport and physical development centre in Karabulak, in Ingushetia, where IDP children living in the neighbourhood can have regular physical training lessons and go in for various sports activities.

Water and Sanitation

In Chechnya, UNICEF, together with the Polish Humanitarian Organisation (PHO), continued delivering an average of 300 m3 of potable water, enough to satisfy the needs of approximately 20,000 beneficiaries in Grozny. UNICEF, in partnership with PHO, continued maintaining sanitation activities: 2 garbage trucks disposed of 98 garbage containers (1 m3 each) at 30 points in schools and hospitals twice a week; the sewage truck operated with the daily capacity of over 12 m3. PHO began a survey to monitor the Water and Sanitation project efficiency and will share the results with UNICEF and other interested parties.

Mine Action*

The Voice of the Mountains, a UNICEF partner, conducted mine risk education sessions for over 1,700 school children in Chechnya and 420 IDP children in Ingushetia. Let's Save the Generation NGO took 610 IDP children from two settlements in Ingushetia to a drama theatre in Vladikavkaz to watch UNICEF-sponsored mine risk education performances. The UNICEF/WHO-supported prosthetic centre in Vladikavkaz completed the treatment of 13 mine/UXO-affected children and women, who also received psychological counselling by psychologists from the New Education (NE) NGO. CARE International and NE continued realising their joint psychosocial programme: 30 war-affected children received treatment at the Vladikavkaz medical psychosocial rehabilitation centre in the form of dance and music therapy, yoga, physical exercises, and other activities. In addition, the NGOs provided psychosocial assistance to 30 children in Satzita camp. Minga, another UNICEF partner, distributed 17 wheelchairs to mine/UXO-affected children and women in three raions of Chechnya.

* 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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