Russia

Ingushetia Situation Report No. 1

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This is the first Situation Report on DRC relief-aid operations in Ingushetia. DRC Situation Reports will appear on a weekly basis in order to keep other agencies working in Ingushetia informed on DRC's needs assessments and registration on an on-going basis.
The reports will be forwarded to agencies already working or planning to work in the Northern Caucasus in order to avid duplication of relief-aid effort. The Danish Refugee Council is more than willing to share information and findings with other agencies.

DRC in Ingushetia

Following the receipt of funding from Danida (the Danish Foreign Ministry) in mid November, the Danish Refugee Council has set up an "Emergency Humanitarian Relief-Aid To The Internally Displaced from Chechnya Project" targeting IDPs in Ingushetia. The program is initially scheduled to run from 15 November 1999 to 14 February 2000 with a view to prolongation for another period of at least three month pending additional funding.

DRC has been working in the Northern Caucasus since June 1997 with rehabilitation programs in North Ossetia and later in Stavropol Krai. The present DRC office in Stavropol City has been significantly expanded with the emergency project and is now fully staffed and equipped to implement a relief-aid program for IDPs in Ingushetia. From 4 November to date, five DRC missions from Stavropol to Ingushetia have taken place in order to prepare the operation as well as setting up the distribution system.

The operation is run from the DRC RF Representative Office in Stavropol as well as from a new Field Office established in Nazran on 23 November. UNHCR FO Nazran has provided valuable assistance in establishing the DRC office in Nazran. For security reasons, no expatriate staff will be posted in Ingushetia. Local staff have been employed at the Nazran office with a Field Office Coordinator, 2 Office Assistants and so far 10 Field Assistants.

DRC will, within the framework of the Danida funded operation, exclusively distribute winter clothing, that is particularly winter coats, winter boots, and possibly also underwear and caps. The DRC relief-aid project will, in particular, target IDPs settled in spontaneous settlements throughout Ingushetia.

Logistics

UNHCR Stavropol has kindly provided DRC with space in the UNHCR warehouse in Stavropol during the initial phases of the DRC project. DRC will also establish its own warehouse premises in Stavropol. A technical cooperation with regard to convoys has been made with UNHCR, according to which DRC trucks, to the extent possible, will join UNHCR convoys from Stavropol to Ingushetia.

Distribution

DRC's distribution concept is based on direct distribution to the IDPs. The trucks loaded with relief-aid items arrive in predefined distribution points central for the targeted IDP population. The trucks are unloaded at the distribution points, after which the distribution itself takes place.

On 25-26 November, the DRC FO Nazran team of field assistants carried out its first systematic registration of all IDPs in three spontaneous settlements in the town of Karabulak. Apart from standard information and personal data, the registration includes entries on sizes of winter clothing and shoe sizes to allow for a systematic coverage of the needs of the targeted IDPs.

According to the registration, the following numbers of IDP were settled in three settlements in Karabulak as of 26 November:

Settlement
Families
Number of IDPs
GBY
72
432
Kar'er
123
677
MTF
172
1,135
Total
367
2,244

With one exception, all IDP families in the three settlements are ethnic Chechen. 52% of the IDPs are from Grozny, 25% from Urus-Martan.

Detailed information on settlements surveyed by DRC can be shared with other agencies targeting settlements with other needed items.

On 28 November, DRC tested its distribution system in the settlements "Kar'er" and "GBY". Over 1,000 items (winter coats) that arrived by truck from Stavropol, were distributed in about three hours. The test distribution was run largely satisfactorily, although minor problems inevitably occurred. These problems have now been adjusted.

On DRC's second transport arriving in Ingushetia on 3 December, DRC distributed over 2,200 winter boots to nearly all IDPs in the three settlements as well as winter coats to the IDPs in the "MTF" settlement.

Registration of IDPs in several other settlements and camps has been carried out during the past week. For security reasons, the specifics of these locations and planned DRC distributions will not appear on print until the distributions have already taken place.

Security

DRC considers it immensely important to assess the security situation prior to implementation of any activity in the Northern Caucasus. Based on security assessments conducted by DRC Security Officer/Senior Logistic Coordinator Brian Graham in Ingushetia on 26-27 November, the following security measures are to be implemented as soon as possible in conjunction with DRC relief-aid operations on the territory of Ingushetia:

1. All DRC Nazran Field Staff must wear distinctive work clothing to assist the security (MVD and DRC Security) in recognizing them while working amongst the IDPs.

2. The DRC expatriate personal Security Guards (1 for each expatriate) are to be armed with Saiga 5.6mm weapons.

3. While in Ingushetia, the numbers of MVD security should be minimum two per expatriate.

4. DRC expatriates, drivers and security are to wear security jackets while in Ingushetia.

5. A strict control of the access of visitors in the Nazran Office must be implemented.

6. Security briefing to be given to all DRC Staff in Stavropol as well as in Nazran especially with regard to communication of movement of personnel.

7. Security to be given a list of all DRC Staff to assist in identification.

8. To limit the time that expatriate staff are physically in Field Locations.

9. A Visitors Registration Book and security system to be put in place in the Stavropol and Nazran Offices.

10. All visitors should wait outside the offices until identified by the person they have business with clears them as official visitors.

11. Mobile communications between the MVD vehicles and DRC vehicles to be established.

12. All transports from Stavropol to Ingushetia are to be escorted by the Federal MVD.

13. DRC will continue to collaborate with UNHCR Field Security in Stavropol, and Ingush Security bodies with regard to the security situation in Ingushetia.

DRC is ready to share information on security issues with other agencies.

Assessments

On 1 December, DRC FO Nazran visited the Ingush Republican Hospital (IRH) in Nazran. At the time of the visit, 44 IDP children below one year of age were hospitalized with enteric and infectious diseases. The hospital is crowded due to the fact that parents have to stay with their infants. According to hospital staff, the infants' mothers have lost their milk, and are feeding their children with whatever they can get. According to the head of the Department of Infectious Diseases, most parents do not take their children to hospitals, having no money for drugs. Hence, the majority of the ill children are kept at their temporary homes.

At the Pediatric Department of the IRH in the village of Nesterovski, also visited on 1 December, there are 20 hospitalized infants, all IDPs with serious enteric diseases. The conditions are poor and the department lacks basic sanitary facilities, incl. toilets.

According to hospital staff at the Pediatric Department of IRH in Nazran, the IRH received only a few IDPs until mid October. With cold temperatures setting in, the number of IDP children has significantly increased. By early November, almost half of the hospitalized children were IDPs. Currently, up to 70% of the children are IDPs. The main reason for hospitalization is freezing down of the organism. At the department, there are 63 patients with acute pneumonia, 132 with acute bronchitis and 45 with kidney diseases caused by cold. All are IDP children.

Assessments in compact settlements conducted in Karabulak indicate that the living conditions of many IDPs with infants are extremely poor. Due to low temperatures, infants easily fall ill. In many cases, IDP parents do not have appropriate clothing for their children and it is difficult to heat up the rooms due to lack of access to gas/electricity. This is why DRC is addressing this particular problem. Undoubtedly, other agencies specializing in medical aid can address the issue of medical supplies in a more qualified manner.

Coordination issues

DRC FO Nazran and UNHCR FO Nazran met for a discussion on technical cooperation on 1 December. It was agreed that UNHCR FO Nazran will facilitate DRC with identification of especially needy IDP settlements/camps for DRC distribution of relief-aid items.

On 2 December, DRC was received by the Head of the new Ingush Government, His Excellency Akhmet I. Mal'sagov in Magas, Ingushetia. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the Government on DRC's operations and to discuss the emergency situation in general. H.E. Mal'sagov expressed his full support to the DRC program in Ingushetia and offered his assistance with regard to security, etc. He also emphasized the need for enhancing a relief-aid system based on direct distribution.

An assessment commission consisting of representatives from 18 regions of the Russian Federation has just concluded its work in Ingushetia having visited all districts of the Republic, according to H.E. Mal'sagov. The investigations of the commission confirm that the actual number of IDPs is somewhat higher than indicated by the official registration, according to which approximately 203,000 IDPs are currently settled in Ingushetia. An analysis of the findings of the assessment commission is forthcoming.

On 3 December, DRC met with the Head of the Emergency aid coordinating body, Mr. Kuksa in Sleptsovskaya, Ingushetia. This meeting followed an initial contact to this governmental body established at an earlier assessment mission on 13 November. Mr. Kuksa approved DRC's program and especially supported the fact that DRC's Danida-funded project is aimed at distribution of clothing and footwear. According to Mr. Kuksa, no other agency has so far, in a systematic way, distributed such items among IDPs in Ingushetia. Mr. Kuksa concurred that particular attention should be given to those IDPs settled in spontaneous settlements and camps.

DRC had a meeting with representatives for the Salvation Army's International Emergency Service (London) and its South Russia Office (Rostov) in Nazran on 4 December. The Salvation Army has already in October shipped a truckload of drugs and winter clothing to the IDP camp in Maiskyi in North Ossetia and is considering the implementation of a large-scale operation. DRC and the Salvation Army's Rostov representative have on an earlier occasion in late November carried out a joint assessment mission in Ingushetia. The latest visit to Nazran aimed at assessing the needs after which a final decision will be made at Headquarters in London. SA might base its program on distribution of second hand winter clothing and also considers the possibility of transferring three mobile clinics from its program in Albania to Ingushetia. SA also considers distribution of baby food and drugs. DRC's Field Office in Nazran as well as UNHCR FO Nazran facilitated the Salvation Army's assessment mission that included a visit to those settlements in Karabulak, where clothing and boots recently were distributed by DRC. DRC and SA discussed possible ways of cooperation and probably SA will utilize DRC's surveys of IDPs as a basis for distribution of drugs and baby food.

The Hungarian Inter-Church Aid (HIA) (in collaboration with the Russian Orthodox Church) will shortly establish an office in the Northern Caucasus, probably in Pyatigorsk or Stavropol. Danish Inter-Church Aid has donated 1,000,000 DKK (approximately 150,000 USD) for aid to IDPs from Chechnya. The project is to be implemented by HIA and the Russian Orthodox Church. An appeal has been sent out by "Action of Churches Together" seeking funding for almost 2 million USD for IDPs in the Northern Caucasus.

The latest meeting with UNHCR Stavropol was held on 30 November for discussions on distribution mechanisms and coordination of relief operations in Ingushetia. Since the crisis started, DRC has had regular meetings with UNHCR Stavropol, incl. meetings on 22 and 25 November.

Public Relation Issues

Danish TV covered the emergency situation in Ingushetia on 10 November with a telephone interview with DRC. Following DRC's first distribution, Danish Radio broadcasted a long-distance interview on 29 November. The following day, the Danish daily "Berlingske Tidende" also printed an interview on the current situation. At this stage, DRC does not wish to expose its operations through international news agencies.

DRC Stavropol, 5 December 1999.

For further information, please contact:

DRC Stavropol

Tom Trier: tel. (8-8652) 94 39 66 or (8-901) 498 08 25

Security:

Brian Graham: tel. (8-901) 498 08 26