Humanitarian Assistance in the Northern Caucasus (Russian Federation) Information Bulletin: As of 9 December 1999

The Number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

As of 15 October
As of 6 December
IDPs from Chechnya in Ingushetia
IDPs from Chechnya in Dagestan
3, 000
IDPs from Chechnya in other regions
no current data available
IDPs from Dagestan displaced in Dagestan

*Source: Ingushetia Migration Service
**Source: UNHCR

The above numbers are changing constantly, as people are moving to other republics or to northern parts of Chechnya, to which some 2,969 persons have moved according to local migration services. Press reports mention that up to 35,000 persons may have returned to Chechnya. UNHCR is seeking to confirm this figure. The total number of IDPs in other parts of the Russian Federation has not yet been confirmed.

The United Nations estimates that at least 75% of IDPs in Ingushetia are living with host families in the republic.

The Humanitarian Response

The Government of the Russian Federation has identified the Ministry of Emergencies (Emercom) as its focal point for humanitarian action in the northern Caucasus. As of 2 December 1999, the government had provided 2,371 MTs of food and non-food aid to the region, including tents, mattresses, blankets, pillows, shoes, electric stoves, kitchen sets, medicines, clothes and shoes, water tanks, and sanitary and hygiene items. A more detailed breakdown will be forthcoming.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) dispatched its fourteenth relief convoy to Ingushetia on 9 December, including 225 MTs of food items (wheat, millet, pearl barley and peas) and 200 wood stoves. The table below shows the food and non-food items, bought locally in Moscow and Stavropol, dispatched by UNHCR to Ingushetia before 9 December.

UNHCR monitors have been visiting IDP camps and spontaneous settlements to assess and oversee relief distributions. UNHCR currently has expatriate staff in the region to strengthen the distribution and monitoring system.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been cooperating with UNHCR in providing humanitarian assistance to the northern Caucasus since the beginning of October 1999. UNICEF supplies consisted of 15 drug kits for 10,000 persons for 2-3 months and hygienic items for 22,000 persons as well as medical supplies.

In order to facilitate TB control activities in the northern Caucasus UNICEF provided 25 microscopes for TB diagnosis to health authorities in Stavropol. The agency is training health care professionals from the northern Caucasus in modern practices of TB diagnosis and treatment. In addition, UNICEF is planning to build the capacity of trainers for psychosocial rehabilitation of children.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is issuing weekly health updates reflecting details of programme activities and the health situation by region, as well as a table of medical supplies being delivered to the area. This information is available on

The agency is concerned about the high risk of epidemics but reports that local health authorities have undertaken emergency hospital preparedness measures in this regard. WHO notes that there are no reports available on the health situation in southern Chechnya.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is conducting meetings with the Ministry of Emergencies (Emercom) on a memorandum of understanding between the two parties. WFP plans on establishing an office in the Russian Federation in the immediate future.

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC), has started its project, ‘Emergency Humanitarian Relief Aid to the Internally Displaced from Chechnya’, due to last from 15 November 1999 to 14 February 2000. DRC, working in cooperation with UNHCR, has carried out assessments of hospitals in Nazran and in the village of Nesterovski and also of settlements in Karabulak. Subsequently, the DRC has carried out distribution of 1,000 winter coats and 2,000 pairs of winter boots.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), works as the UN Resident Coordinator's secretariat to enhance coordination of the relief effort. To date, OCHA has facilitated coordination meetings between the UN agencies and donor embassies, and between UN agencies and NGOs. In addition, OCHA has promoted the establishment of working groups in the health, shelter and relief, food aid, water and sanitation, education, and protection sectors. Agencies have identified focal points in each of the sectors. The first health sector working group meeting took place on Friday 2 December gathering representatives from nine agencies involved in the health sector.

Summary of recent events

3-8 November: the UN dispatched an inter-agency rapid assessment mission to Ingushetia and Dagestan, in order to assess emergency relief needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host families. The mission, conducted jointly by OCHA, UNDP/UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, and the office of the United Nations Security Co-ordinator (UNSECOORD), and accompanied by representatives of the Russian Government at the federal and regional levels found the humanitarian situation in the area very difficult and likely to deteriorate sharply unless relief needs are addressed urgently. In addition to requirements for supplies of relief, protection-related issues such as access to assistance were found to be a priority. The mission recommended that the international community immediately should enhance relief efforts supporting and complementing the work already being carried out by the government, particularly in the areas of food aid, shelter, health, as well as addressing psycho-social rehabilitation and reestablishment of livelihoods. (The mission report is available in English and Russian from OCHA Moscow.)

12 November: the UN Secretary-General issued a statement expressing his concern over developments in the northern Caucasus, recalling humanitarian law and the need to protect civilians from the effects of conflict. He urged to seek long-term solutions to the conflict and protect civilian populations from further suffering.

16-20 November: Ms Sadako Ogata undertook a mission to the Russian Federation as the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy in order to convey his concern about the situation in the northern Caucasus, to further assess the situation on the ground, and to identify measures for the United Nations to support the Russian government in addressing the humanitarian aspects of the crisis. She met Prime Minister Putin, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ivanov, Minister for Emergencies Shoigu and the President of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev. The Russian authorities expressed their desire and support for international humanitarian action in the northern Caucasus and assured the United Nations that no civilians would be returned to Chechnya against their will. Agreement was reached on the need for strong monitoring to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches civilians. In addition, the Prime Minister assured the United Nations that the Government would waive value-added tax on goods procured locally and expedite customs clearances for humanitarian cargo.

23 November: at a meeting in Geneva chaired by the UN Secretary General, the UN launched the Inter-agency Flash Appeal for the Northern Caucasus, seeking US $16.2 million to address humanitarian needs of 250,000 IDPs and members of host families from 1 December 1999 to 29 February 2000.

UN Inter-Agency Flash Appeal

The flash appeal aims to address the relief needs of the affected populations in the sectors of food aid, winterisation, including shelter and relief items, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, emergency education, and protection. The planning scenarios elaborated jointly by the participating agencies target some 250,000 beneficiaries: 125,000 IDPs, 100,000 members of host families, and 25,000 persons as a contingency planning figure.

Canada, ECHO, Finland, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States have responded to the appeal by pledging cash contributions to UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, and OCHA. The pledges now total some US $11 million or 70% of the required total. A detailed update on donors’ response to the appeal will be issued shortly.

The flash appeal, as well as further information on the situation in the northern Caucasus are available on OCHA’s website: or from its Moscow office.

Produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Moscow
Tel: 232-3011; Fax: 232-3017; email:


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit