Last week and the beginning of this one were notorious for the continuing of heavy fighting in Grozny, the Chechen capital (1). It is also important to mention the first attempt that have been taken by the Taliban Movement to officially recognise Chechnya as an independent state (the Taliban Government itself is recognised only by few Middle-East states) (2). A bomb explosion in Nazran has come at a time when many international relief agencies started establishing their presence in the neighbouring-to-Chechnya republic (3).
1. Street battles are reported to be raging in the Chechen capital, Grozny. In some streets the opposing sides are just metres apart. Russian forces are calling this the decisive offensive to capture the city and claiming substantial successes. Federal officials say that they have seized control of the strategic bridge across the Sunzha river, and of Minutka Square in central Grozny. They also say they have managed to take control of a hospital, a canning factory, and a military compound - killing 150 rebels in fierce fighting. But the Chechens say Russian units are being allowed to advance in order to ambush them, and that central Grozny remains under Chechen control.
Russian news agency Itar-Tass has reported that a group of prominent Chechen field commanders are in Moscow for negotiations on the war. According to the report the pro-Russian Chechen State Council is acting as mediator in the talks. No details of who is actually attending were given, and there has been no official confirmation from the Kremlin that they are taking place.
In a televised interview, Anatoly Kulikov, the Russian commander during the previous war in Chechnya and also the ex-RF Minister of Interior, warned of prolonged anti-guerrilla combat. "I am afraid this conflict is our Ulster," he said, referring to Britain's decades-long battle in Northern Ireland. "It's for many years to come."
2. Lately the Afghanistan-based Taliban Movement announced its official recognition of the independent state of Chechnya. In turn the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 17 January condemning this formal recognition of Chechnya’s independence as "legally invalid" and "interference into Russia’s internal affairs". Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, who heads the Russian Defence Ministry’s Department for International Military Co-operation, said that the Taliban move will not effect the timing of Russia’s ongoing offensive in Chechnya. He accused the Taliban of providing military assistance to the Chechens.
3. Ingushetia's Supreme Court building was damaged by an explosion on 18 January, but no one was injured.
Police had evacuated and searched the building after receiving an anonymous telephone warning but failed to locate the explosive. A second explosive device was found under the window of the office of Nazran City Court
Judge Ali Azdoev.
The following information is provided by MS - Ingushetia as of 15/01/2000
According to Ingush MS there are 1774 persons not registered by Migration Service of Ingushetia.
For the period from 8/01 to 15/01/2000 DRC conducted distributions of UNHCR and DRC winter boots and DRC as well as NRC winter jackets for IDPs from Chechnya in Ingushetia.
Total number of winter items distributed by DRC in Ingushetia so far:
Winter coats: 21,765 (17,118 of which provided by UNHCR, 1507 were procured for NRC money)
Winter boots: 33,835 (11,878 of which provided by UNHCR, 3,592 of which as a part of DRC/NRC co-operation program)
Until 14/01 the DRC field workers in Ingushetia carried out the pre-distribution registration of IDPs in Ingushetia. From 11/01 to 14/01 they registered 4,391 persons. So, by 15/01 the total number of IDPs in Ingushetia registered by DRC so far was 40,245. Since 15/01 DRC fully concentrated on performance of the UNHCR-funded registration of the total IDP population in Ingushetia. During the period from 15/01 to 20/01 a total of 44,500 IDPs were registered by the DRC team in cooperation with the Ingush Migration Service and Local Administrations. The registration exercise, to the extent possible will incorporate the results of the registration carried out under the parallel DRC program. This registration of the total IDP population in Ingushetia is planed to finish in a month time (including computer processing of the registration forms).
Inter Agency Issues
On 14/01 DRC, MDM, ACF, UNHCR and UNICEF took part at the Emercom Co-ordination Meeting in Sleptsovskaya (Ingushetia). DRC Senior Logistics Officer, Mr. Brian Graham, opened the session with the comment on the lack of control by Local Administration in Sunzha District. Mr. Kuksa, the Minister of EMERCOM - Ingushetia opened the meeting with the suggestion that the international NGOs agenda be presented and that his own business with Regional Administrations be conducted after that. The UNHCR Water and Sanitation expert gave an update on his project. UNICEF told the meeting that one truck with medicine had been delivered and that discussions with the Health Ministry would be held. ACF informed the participants that they had 30 trucks with food aid due in. MDM briefed about the continuing of medical aid assistance for IDPs in Ingushetia.
On 14/01 an Inter-Agency Meeting was held at the DRC Field Office in Nazran. Among the participants there were the following representatives: DRC (Tom Trier, Country Program Manager, DRC North Caucasus), MDM (Samuel Marie-Fanon, CIS Representative), ICRC (Zarema Kurkieva, Administrator), Salvation Army (Idris Musaev, Dagman Murtazalieva, SA representatives). The participants informed about the currently run programs and discussed how to facilitate provision of IDPs with relief aid.
On 14/01 DRC - FO Nazran met with UNICEF local representative. UNICEF plan to bring 3,000 children’s jackets to Ingushetia and would like to distribute them through the well established distribution system of DRC. That proposal was very well taken by DRC.
On 15/01 DRC met with the Islamic Relief Agency’s Ingush representative, Mrs. Malsagova Natalja Muradovna. According to her IRA is providing food aid to 4,000 families living in "Bart", "Sputnik" and "Severnij" Camps. IR was informed about the system of registration of IDPs utilized by DRC in Ingushetia and was invited to the next working Inter-Agency Meeting that is going to take place at DRC - FO Nazran premises on 25/01.
16/01 DRC had a meeting with Salvation Army representative, Captain Geoff Ryan, and discussed issues of registration of IDPs and distribution. SA plans to deliver milk powder, baby food and vitamins for IDPs in Ingushetia.
On 17/01 DRC participated at the Relief/Shelter Sector Meeting which was organized by OCHA – Moscow. Apart from DRC the meeting was attended by UNHCR, Salvation Army, MSF - Belgium, IRC, CPCD, the Russian Red Cross representatives. At the meeting the NGO representatives informed each other about their activities and also briefed about the future plans of action in the Caucasus (particularly in Ingushetia). As a result of this meeting, the participants agreed that OCHA will be responsible for creating and updating of a database on NGO relief/shelter activities and promised to submit the information to the above-mentioned agency.
On 18/01 DRC took part at a Food Sector Meeting that was held at ACF - Moscow. Together with ACF and DRC there were UNHCR, OCHA, ICRC, CPCD, ECHO, Dorcas Aid, Care - Deutschland and the Russian Red Cross who exchanged the information concerning the food-aid relief assistance for IDPs in the North Caucasus. The parties expressed interest in developing of another database on the NGO food assistance. Finally this will allow to better meet the need of internally displaced people. The next Food Sector Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 26 January.
The subject of the next Sector Meeting will be security. It is going to take place at UN "Old Building" in Moscow on 21/01 at 16:00.
Stavropol, 20 January 2000.
For further information, please contact:
Tom Trier (8) 901 498 08 25
Zelim Yandarov (8) 901 498 08 24