Russia

Ingushetia Situation Report No. 2

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On Monday this week, Russia gave civilians until Saturday to leave Grozny or risk being killed in an all-out air and artillery bombardment. Russian warplanes dropped leaflets over Grozny, warning that anyone remaining in the city after the deadline would be considered as enemy target and destroyed. "You are surrounded, all roads of Grozny are blocked. You have no chance of winning", the leaflets warned.

There has been strong international condemnation of Russia's threat to launch an all-out assault on the Chechen capital, Grozny. The United States, the European Union and human rights groups have all denounced the move. But Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rebuffed the criticism saying there would be no talks with Grozny unless the militants released their hostages. Reports did not make clear which ''hostages'' he was referring to.

Human rights groups said many of the remaining population in Grozny were elderly or wounded and in no condition to escape. A spokesman for the Halo Trust, which is distributing medical supplies to Grozny hospitals, said tens of thousands of civilians were still in the city which he described as an ''inferno''.

Chechen militants are quoted by BBC World Service for saying that nearly 50,000 people remain in Grozny. Russian military commanders say the city is almost entirely occupied by separatist fighters. A senior military official said there were no more than 1,000 civilians in Grozny - and that they were being held as human shields.

According to CNN News, refugees are still arriving at the Ingush border. Some of the refugees said many people left behind inside Grozny were unable to leave. Russia's Federal Migration Service said thay expected 20,000 to 30,000 refugees to flee Grozny in the coming few days. According to Radio Liberty, between 20,000 and 40,000 people are believed to remain in Grozny. On 11 December, Emercom organized 13 vehicles for bringing out civilians from Grozny.

Displacement figures

The latest information of the Ingush authorities dated 6 December indicates that the total number of registered IDPs in Ingushetia is 239,804 persons (59,291 families). Those displaced persons that have left for other regions number 27,708 individuals.

Movements through Kavkaz checkpoint on 6 December:

  • From Chechnya to Ingushetia: 1,491
  • From Ingushetia to Chechnya: 536
Movements through Kavkaz checkpoint since 1 November, 1999:
  • From Chechnya to Ingushetia: 72,250
  • From Ingushetia to Chechnya: 28,814
Logistics

On 8 December, DRC established its own warehouse premises in the city of Stavropol. The total warehouse space available is 335 m2. Also, DRC will set up a small warehouse in Nazran in order to facilitate the distribution of relief aid for the most vulnerable IDPs living in small spontaneous settlements.

DRC constantly updates information on possible winter clothing suppliers. Procurement contracts have been signed with suppliers in Stavropol, Pyatigorsk and in other regions of the Russian Federation.

Distribution

DRC will continue to specialize in distribution of winter clothing and winter footwear. To broaden the number of relief-aid beneficiaries it has been decided that each targeted individual will receive either a pair of winter boots or a winter coat. This will enable DRC to cover approximately 40,000 internally displaced persons in Ingushetia. However, IDPs in Karabulak and Aki-Yurt, who have already been promised both winter boots and clothing will, indeed, receive both items.

IDPs in the Aki-Yurt area of Malgobekskyi District are settled in Novyi Aki-Yurt and Staryi Aki-Yurt as well as in a camp. According to the registration carried out by DRC, the following number of IDPs were settled in the area as of 6 December:

Settlement
Families
Number of IDPs
Novyi Aki-Yurt
293
1453
Staryi Aki-Yurt
174
1119
IDP Camp
156
993
Total
623
3565

The average number of persons per family is 5,7 individuals. Most of the IDPs there are from the city of Grozny and Groznensky district (67%). The rest are from Urus-Martan, Achkhoy-Martan, Gudermes, Vedeno, Shali and other settlements of Chechnya. All IDPs registered are ethnic Chechens.

On 7 December DRC carried out distribution of winter footwear for IDPs of all age and sex groups living with host families, in spontaneous settlements and in IDP camp of Aki-Yurt village. 3,339 winter boots were distributed among the IDPs.

On 10 December, DRC distributed 1,171 winter boots in the village of Inarki, Malgobekskyi District, based on the registration below:

Settlement
Families
Number of IDPs
Inarki
196
1201

The average number of persons per IDP family in Inarki is 6,1 individuals. 98% of people there are of Chechen origin, 1,9% - Ingush and 0,1% - others.

To date, DRC has distributed 8,264 boots and coats since its first transport on 27 November.

Assessments

The DRC Field team in Ingushetia continues the registration of IDPs and DRC has so far registered about 15,000 IDPs, of whom the majority is settled in compact settlements.

Communications

Apart from a stationary telephone line and Nokia 540's for use at the DRC FO Nazran, DRC will now provide the field office with a high-capacity Nokia 720 (NMT - 450 standard) with external antenna in order to allow for e-mail communication.

Inter-Agency Issues

On 8 December DRC North Caucasus had a brief meeting with representatives of MSF-Holland and MSF-Belgium. Various subjects concerning relief-aid activities in Ingushetia were discussed.

On 7, 8 and 12 December DRC North Caucasus met UNHCR in Stavropol and Vladikavkaz for discussions on cooperation on humanitarian action in Ingushetia.

The Salvation Army for South Russia has received a significant donation from its international headquarters in London to implement a "Programme of Humanitarian Assistance to Chechen refugees in Ingushetia, Russian Federation" from 10 December 1999 to 10 March 2000, of which the first 100,000 USD will be allocated next week. SA is planning to establish a field office in Nazran manned by local staff. SA targets 10,000 IDPs in spontaneous settlements with a high proportion of women and children. The program objective is to assist the needs of displaced persons and host families in primary health care; provision of supplementary feeding, especially for children 0-5 years; and the supply of winter clothes and other items of necessity. The Salvation Army expects at its early stage of operations to transfer a mobile primary health care clinic from its project in Albania to Ingushetia.

Public Relations Issues

On 6 December two journalist (Swedish Radio, Danish Radio/TV) and a cameraman from Moscow arrived in Stavropol to cover the distribution of relief items by DRC in Ingushetia. They were present during the distribution in Ingushetia on 7 December, talked to IDPs and made an interview with DRC North Caucasus Project Manager Tom Trier. The journalists returned to Moscow on 8 December. Several articles on the humanitarian situation in Ingushetia were printed in the Danish press this week based on interviews with DRC HQ in Copenhagen and DRC North Caucasus in Stavropol.

For further information, please contact

Tom Trier: 8-901-498-08-25

Security:

Brian Graham: 8-901-498-08-26

DRC North Caucasus, Stavropol, 12 December 1999.