Russia

Maria Minna announces an additional $1.5 million for displaced chechens

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Ottawa - Canada's International Cooperation Minister, Maria Minna, today announced an additional contribution of $1.5 million to help people who have been displaced or who have fled from the violence in Chechnya. This brings Canada's total commitment in the region to $ 1.75 million since October 1999.

"Thousands of children, women, and men have suffered tremendous hardships as a result of the violence," said Minister Minna. "With the arrival of winter, the living conditions for those people who fled Chechnya will only get worse. We must ensure that they have warm shelter, clothing and enough food to see them through a difficult winter."

Today's commitment by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will be channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations. CIDA will provide $1 million in response to a United Nations appeal to assist displaced persons and host families who have taken them in. CIDA will also provide $500,000 to the ICRC which will be used for food, medical assistance, winterization programmes, and improved water and sanitation facilities.

Given the fluidity and unpredictability of events in the region, this contribution will be provided in two tranches.

The humanitarian situation in the northern Caucasus has deteriorated rapidly since the conflict began in August. There are now more than 250,000 internally displaced persons who have left Chechnya -- 80% of whom are women and children. An additional 100,000 people are reportedly on the move inside Chechnya's borders. Before this latest outbreak of fighting, Chechnya's population was estimated to have been about 500,000.

The majority of displaced persons have been placed with host families in neighbouring Ingushetia with a smaller number housed in camps and railway wagon sites. Ingushetia is an impoverished region with a population of 315,000 and the burden placed on local health and welfare services as well as host families is considerable.

Funding for this emergency humanitarian assistance was provided for in the February 1999 federal budget and is therefore built into the existing fiscal framework.