Russia

IRC distributes supplies to Chechen refugees

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JANUARY 7, 2000 - The International Rescue Committee has delivered mattresses and blankets to refugees in Ingushetia - as temperatures in the region decline. Gillian Dunn, the IRC's emergency coordinator for Chechnya, says the cold is one of the major factors affecting the refugees, making an already "deplorable situation" even worse.
The IRC concentrated on four makeshift settlements that have yet to receive assistance from the Russian government or other organizations. The first site, which The Moscow Times recently dubbed "the forgotten camp," is an abandoned pig factory currently sheltering some 250 people. There the IRC distributed one mattress and blanket for each person. Ms. Dunn says the IRC is monitoring the water situation at the camp, citing worries the supply is contaminated. The IRC also distributed mattresses and blankets to 200 refugees at a former canning factory and to 30 people seeking refuge in an abandoned farmhouse.

In addition, the IRC provided bedding supplies to a relatively new camp called "Logovaz," which was set up by a champion Chechen weight lifter. Short of cash, the government apparently paid him with land rather than money. The weight lifter initially planned to use the area to sell cars, but has since made it available to refugees. He also donated several tents, but says he lacks the resources to help everyone at the settlement (about 200 people). Ms. Dunn says the camps clearly need help regarding water and sanitation, but she added, "I'm glad that we at least made a dent."

Tens of thousands of Chechens have fled to Ingushetia since the outbreak of hostilities in the region in August.