Humanitarian action in the North Caucasus information bulletin 16 Nov - 15 Dec 2002

Situation Report
Originally published
President Putin Signs Decree on Referendum in Chechnya

On 12 November, President Putin signed a decree on the procedure of holding a referendum on the constitution of the Chechen Republic. The laws on the election of the president and parliament of the republic will also be presented to public judgement. The decree instructs the administration of the Chechen Republic to elaborate, within a month's time, financial, technical, and organisational measures to hold the referendum. An initiative group formed in Chechnya, which is to be registered by the Chechen electoral commission in two weeks, will have 30 days to collect 12,000 signatures in support of the event. After the signatures are checked the electoral commission will determine the date of the referendum. According to the Chairman of the Central Election Committee, Alexandre Veshnyakov, it can take place already as early as March 2003.

International Aid Community Concerned at Plans to Close IDP Camps in Ingushetia

The international aid community is concerned at the intention of the Russian authorities to dismantle the tent camps in Ingushetia, accommodating some 23,000 IDPs from Chechnya. It was quick to react to the plans and the consequent closure of the Iman camp in Aki-Yurt at the beginning of December, stressing that all returns to Chechnya should be voluntary questioning insecurity and the lack of shelter, basic services, and economic opportunities for the returnees. On 27 November, UN Under-Secretary-Gneneral for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr Kenzo Oshima, stated that return could only be considered voluntary if "no risk exists to returnees' life, safety, liberty, and health." The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced concern about the fate of IDPs in Ingushetia, calling on the Russian authorities to postpone its plans. Amnesty International and Refugees International made similar statements. Several countries, and the EU Commission, carried out demarches, also.

UN Seeks US $33.7 Million in 2003 for Chechnya and Neighbouring Republics

On 19 November, the United Nations in Moscow launched its 2003 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Chechnya and Neighbouring Republics (North Caucasus - Russian Federation) for humanitarian assistance for the civilian population affected by the events in the Republic of Chechnya. The appeal seeks US $33,732,884 from the international donor community and is part of a global effort launched by the United Nations on behalf of 50 million people suffering from the consequences of humanitarian crises in 30 countries and regions of the world. The UN humanitarian action, which complements efforts by governmental and non-governmental organisations, aims to protect and assist people in Chechnya, preserve Ingushetia as a safe haven for displaced persons, and ensure the principle of their voluntary return to Chechnya. Various UN agencies, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), and World Health Organization (WHO), plan to continue working in the sectors of protection, food, shelter and non-food, health, water and sanitation, education, mine action, and economic recovery. The United Nations Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD) manages staff safety on a day-to-day basis. The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, supported by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is responsible for overall management of the UN's work in the Chechnya and neighbouring republics of the Russian Federation.



After the closure of the Iman camp in Aki-Yurt in Ingushetia, 116 families (558 persons) deregistered in Ingushetia and registered for assistance in Chechnya, and the authorities reported that all of them had returned to Chechnya in organised movements. Since the camp had accommodated about 1,500 IDPs, UNHCR and its partner NGOs located those who remained in Ingushetia, and worked to address their needs. The agency continued monitoring the situation in other camps in Ingushetia, including A, B, Bart, Satzita, and Sputnik. The authorities were carrying out an information campaign among IDPs in camps A and B to encourage them to return to Chechnya. From 14-15 December, 24 families (152 persons) returned to Chechnya from camps A, B and Sputnik, and registered for assistance in Chechnya after they had de-registered Ingushetia. One family of 6 persons, which had stayed with a host family, returned. UNHCR together with its partners completed checking the physical presence of IDPs in Bart camp and was compiling the results.


In December, WFP allocated about 2,900 MTs of food commodities for almost 290,000 beneficiaries in Chechnya and Ingushetia. The agency, together with its NGO partners, was distributing food based on a reduced monthly basic ration of 10 kg of wheat flour and 0.15 kg of iodised salt. Due to the shortage of sugar and edible oil in WFP stocks these items were not included into the on-going distribution cycle. WFP, together with NGO partners, continued its school-feeding activities in Chechnya, reaching 41,000 primary school children in 41 schools who receive hot meals and sweet buns on a daily basis. In schools, where hot meal cooking is not possible due to the lack of kitchen equipment WFP will distribute take-home rations. In December, the People in Need Foundation (PINF) continued implementing the WFP food-for-work project in Grozny and Groznensky Rural raion of Chechnya. In the last two weeks of November, 870 active participants of this project received 140 tons of wheat flour, sugar, and oil as a compensation for their work.

Shelter and Non-food Items

UNHCR received the go-ahead from the migration authorities to erect pre-fabricated "box tents" at some existing IDP temporary settlements and new IDP relocation sites in Ingushetia. The agency has a stock of some 150 "box-tents," which could house about 900 people. Agreements were reached with 34 host families to accommodate IDPs from the former Iman tented camp in Aki-Yurt. Thirteen of them agreed to host IDPs residing in 18 adobe huts on the site of the closed camp. By the end of the reporting period, 23 IDP families (173 persons) remained there. The People in Need Foundation (PINF), one of UNHCR's implementing partners, continued distributing construction materials to vulnerable beneficiaries in Chechnya to ensure that one dry room is available in their homes for the winter.

In Ingushetia, Help, a German NGO, completed the distribution of bed items to IDPs from Chechnya, accommodated in host families and temporary settlements, reaching about 3,300 families. In addition, it continued distributing children underwear, primarily in IDP settlements and tent camps.


During the reporting period, WHO continued its training activities, organising a series of seminars in Moscow and the North Caucasus for participants from Chechnya and Ingushetia. From 19-21 November in Nazran, WHO held a seminar on perinatal care and childhood diseases for 26 health workers from the two republics. From 25-29 November, the agency organised a training workshop for 25 representatives of the sanitary epidemiological surveillance service (SES) of Chechnya and Ingushetia on insects and rodent control. Sixteen doctors from the two republics benefited from the WHO-organised training on sexually transmitted infections held in Moscow from 11-13 November. A seminar, 'Positive Psychotherapy," for 25 representatives of NGOs working in psychosocial rehabilitation centres in Chechnya and Ingushetia took place in Nazran from 17-23 November. The second group of psychiatrists from Chechnya began a WHO-sponsored one-month on-the-job training at the Moscow research Institute of Psychiatry. From 1-6 December in Nazran, WHO conducted a training course on bacteriology, attended by 20 physicians and microbiologists from Ingushetia. In addition, the agency distributed 15 MTs of chlorine lime to SES in Chechnya and Ingushetia. UNICEF continued supporting maternity and pediatric hospitals in Chechnya and Ingushetia, providing them essential drugs and mother and child health care kits. The agency distributed essential medicines and consumables to mobile medical teams run by PINF in settlements in Ingushetia and provided assistance to health care clinics run by the Islamic Relief (IR) and the Saudi Red Crescent Society in tent camps in the republic.

Water and Sanitation

In Chechnya, UNICEF, together with the Polish Humanitarian Organisation (PHO), continued delivering potable water to city residents. Due to shortening daylight, the average daily capacity was reduced to 400 m3 per day, enough to satisfy the needs of approximately 27,000 beneficiaries. The NGO was relocating several water bladders to provide water to an increased number of schools and to facilitate the implementation of the WFP school-feeding project. To improve the environmental situation in Grozny, UNICEF, in partnership with PHO, arranged for the disposal of garbage and sewage at schools and hospitals with the daily capacity of over 190 m3 of garbage and 10 m3 of sewage. In Ingushetia, UNICEF distributed about 500 kg of chloramine to IDP settlements for disinfection purposes.


In Ingushetia, UNICEF studied the status of tent schools for IDP children to replace the most damaged tents and was in the process of procuring 24 tents for this purpose. Hilfswerk Austria (HA) winterised a school in Malgobek, which it runs with UNICEF support. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), another UNICEF partner, organised a training in Grozny, supported by the city department of education, for teachers of the Russian and foreign languages from the NGO-run schools. In Ingushetia, IRC took 50 best pupils among IDP children, attending the NGO-run schools, to a circus in Vladikavkaz. It organised a concert for IDPs in Ingushetia, inviting a Chechen folk music group from Grozny. Caritas Internationalis, a UNICEF partner, rehabilitated part of the building, housing a kindergarten in Oktyabrski district of Grozny, which will be ready to enroll about 50 children in December. Priority is given to orphans, semi-orphans, and most vulnerable children.

From 15-16 December in Nazran, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), together with the Ministry of Education of Chechnya and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), organised an introductory seminar on teaching human rights at schools for representatives of the ministry, raion educational authorities, and headmasters of Chechen schools.

Mine Action*

UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) discussed the possibility and the way of combining the two organisations' databases of mine incidents and casualties. This would increase the efficiency of monitoring and assistance to mine victims. The Voice of the Mountains (VoM), a UNICEF partner, organised a two-day training in Grozny on mine risk education, which is an integral part of the school curriculum in Chechnya, for 80 teachers of Grozny schools. The training will be held in all other districts of the republic in accordance with the schedule, approved by the Ministry of Education of Chechnya. In addition, the NGO conducted mine risk education sessions for over 2,500 children in Chechnya and 560 IDP children from Chechnya, residing in Ingushetia and North Ossetia. Let's Save the Generation NGO took 430 IDP children from tent camps in Ingushetia to watch UNICEF-organised mine awareness interactive performances at a drama theatre in Vladikavkaz. The UNICEF/WHO-supported prosthetic centre in Vladikavkaz treated 25 mine/UXO (unexploded ordinance) affected children and mothers, fitting them with artificial limbs or providing orthopaedic shoes. Psychologists from the New Education NGO consulted 25mine/UXO affected children attending the prosthetic centre and the physical rehabilitation centre in Vladikavkaz. UNICEF, together with another local NGO, Minga, distributed 108 wheelchairs to mine/UXO affected children and women in six 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.

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