Humanitarian Assistance in the Northern Caucasus (Russian Federation) Information Bulletin: As of 11 Feb 2000

Visit of the Secretary-General to Moscow
The United Nations Secretary-General visited Moscow from 27 to 29 January 2000 and had meetings with senior Russian officials. The situation in Chechnya was one of the topics discussed. The Secretary-General reiterated his concerns about the fate of civilians in the Republic. While the international community fully understands the need for States to combat terrorism, the Secretary-General stressed that the use of force should be proportional and not endanger civilians. He noted that for the time being, UN humanitarian assistance is being provided to IDPs outside Chechnya but he looked forward to the day when UN assistance could be extended to those within Chechnya when circumstances permit.

Flash Appeal Review

The United Nations deployed a team of international staff to Ingushetia during the first week of February to review programme implementation, assess priority needs, and plan future programmes in the region. The findings of the mission will provide the basis for the extension of the United Nations Consolidated Inter-agency Appeal which is being proposed to cover the period 1 December 1999 - 30 June 2000.

The team comprised representatives from UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNSECOORD, WFP, WHO, OCHA, UNSECOORD, IOM, and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). Representatives of the Russian Government (EMERCOM and the Federal Migration Service) accompanied the team. The main findings are cited below:

  • There are approximately 185,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ingushetia. (UNHCR/DRC, working in close cooperation the Regional Migration Service and local administrations was in the process of completing a registration exercise during the review mission.) About 70% of IDPs are living with host families, 20% in spontaneous settlements, and 10% in camps. While an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 IDPs have returned to Chechnya, population movements into and out of Chechnya continue.
  • On the whole, Emercom of Russia, UN agencies, ICRC and NGOs are meeting the emergency needs although gaps still exist. Agencies are continuing to provide emergency food rations, medicines, warm clothing, water and sanitation. They will also now start to focus on programmes such as education, income generation, and psycho-social rehabilitation. The UN appeal, due to be issued on 1 March 2000, will describe possible scenarios, priority requirements and specific ways to address them.
  • The security situation throughout the northern Caucasus continues to hamper humanitarian action. Staff movements and presence has to be limited, complicating management and monitoring of aid operations.

Exploratory Mission to Chechnya

During the review of the UN flash appeal, the opportunity arose to conduct a one-day exploratory mission inside Chechnya to gain a first-hand indication of the overall situation and to help the UN agencies carry out contingency planning.

The four-person UN team comprised members of UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA and UNSECOORD. Two officials from Emercom accompanied the team. The team visited Garagorsk and Znamenskoye in the Nadterechnii district (central-northern Chechnya). It has 50,000 residents and an additional 35,000 IDPs. 30,000 IDPs are hosted by residents or live in spontaneous settlements. 5,000 IDPs live in two camps, managed by Emercom and the Federal Migration Service. The security environment in that particular district appeared relatively stable but remains volatile.

While conditions in camps appeared to be reasonably good thanks to the assistance provided by Emercom and the Federal Migration Service, the situation in the spontaneous settlements is grim. The district infrastructure is in deplorable shape but basic services such as electricity, gas and water are working. The team was struck by a fairly steady flow of cars, buses, and trucks along the district's roads. The information gathered by the team will help the UN in its contingency planning activities.

The Humanitarian Response

In total, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has sent 28 convoys to Ingushetia and 5 to Dagestan. The last convoy to Ingushetia comprised 30 trucks which carried more than 300 MTs of food items and 163 double-tier beds. UNHCR's previous convoy included winterized tents and 1,105 double tier beds. Over 4000 MT of food have been delivered.

UNHCR, which has been supplying food commodities to DRC for distribution has now exhausted its food budget and the last commodities will be distributed next week. UN World Food Programme (WFP) commodities have now began to arrive to cover food requirements for 150,000 persons. The division of labour between agencies targeting IDPs and agencies targeting host families has been complicated by the fact that population groups are intermingled and are located in over 261 places. The Russian Ministry of Emergencies (Emercom), WFP, UNHCR, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and DRC are working out new arrangements to address this issue.

UNHCR and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) are working together to improve the water and sanitation situation. On 1 February, UNHCR and the water and sewage organization of Ingushetia signed an agreement on emergency water supply to IDP settlements. The agreement comprises water trucking and installation of UNICEF's 14 water bladders. Other activities in this sector include rehabilitation of the central water distribution station, the laying of new distribution pipes, the provision of water tanks, showers, sewage disposal, and garbage collection.

UNICEF has arranged an air shipment of some 30 MTs non-food items, which are expected to arrive in Vladikavkaz early next week. These items, including cold chain equipment to support the Ingush Ministry of Health to have an adequate immunization infrastructure throughout the Republic, will be distributed to various UNICEF supported assistance projects in Ingushetia.

In addition to programmes implemented by UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, WHO and ICRC, some 20 NGOs are now working in Ingushetia. Some, such as the DRC and World Vision (WV) have implementing arrangements with UN agencies in addition to their own programmes.

As of 6 February 2000, DRC had distributed 80,000 winter jackets and boots. Moreover, DRC expects to distribute some 300,000 hygiene items to be supplied by UNICEF.

Islamic Relief is supplying clean drinking water to 8 IDP camps, as well as providing food and non-food parcels to 4,100 families in the camps of Sputnik, Severny and Karabulak. By the end of January 2000, the NGO will have delivered 650 MTs of aid. Islamic Relief is also operating 4 mobile clinics providing primary health care in the three above-mentioned camps. The organization will start supplying its 4,100 beneficiary families with coal in the near future. Plans are under way to expand the programme to additional 4,000 families.

The Centre for Peacemaking and Community Development (CPCD) now has 25 psychologists and trainee psychologists working for the psychological rehabilitation of traumatized children in four IDPs camps located in Severny, Sleptsovskaya and Karabulak. In addition, CPCD has distributed food parcels, clothes, blankets, and hygiene packets in Nazran and Sunzhe (Ingushetia), in Maiskii (North Ossetia) and in Sernovodsk (Chechnya). The organization is also establishing a bakery in Sleptsovskaya.

Dorcas Aid International has distributed 109 MTs of food and non-food items to 8,000 beneficiaries in Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia), 4,000 IDPs in Mozdok (North Ossetia), and to IDPs living with host families in Sleptsovskaya and Nazran.

Action Contre la Faim (ACF) started distributing food and hygiene products to 5,700 IDPs in Sleptsovskaya at the beginning of February and plans to expand their distribution to 29,000 beneficiaries in Karabulak.

The Salvation Army has distributed baby food to more than 8,000 children under three in Malgobek, Nazran and Sunzhenski districts. A shipment of medicines will also be distributed shortly to vulnerable population in these areas.

People in Need Foundation is currently providing some 3,000 children with food, school materials and basic medical care in 4 spontaneous settlements of Ingushetia.

The UN Inter-agency Flash Appeal: 1 December 1999 - 29 February 2000

As of end of January, the donor community had pledged US$14.1 million against the UN inter-agency flash appeal, compared to the US$ 16.2 million requested. Whereas UNHCR, UNICEF and OCHA are completely funded, UNFPA, WFP, and WHO still require funds.

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

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