Mercy Corps on the frontlines as Chechen refugee crisis worsens

A Mercy Corps team is providing lifesaving emergency relief to Chechen refugees who have crossed into neighboring Ingushetia. An estimated 260,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled the Russian bombardment and are now facing a harsh winter in Ingushetia.

Mercy Corps is delivering aid to refugees in camps and with host families in the two largest districts of the republic, Nazranskyi and Sunzhenskyi. These districts comprise the bulk of the Republic and include border areas with Chechnya.

The living conditions in refugee camps are extremely difficult. Some families are housed in cardboard shelters that offer little protection against the elements. Many refugees are living with host families; it is not uncommon for more than 25 people to be found in a modest 3-bedroom home. There may be up to 300 refugees in a family compound. Children under 12 make up an estimated 40-500f the displaced.

The agency conducted a needs assessment among the refugee population and identified the greatest needs as:

  • clean water (an outbreak of hepatitis is feared)
  • food, including baby formula and flour, and cooking utensils
  • hygiene items to combat skin diseases, colds and flu
  • medicines, vitamins and medical supplies, to cope with respiratory and intestinal infections and TB
  • tents and shelter items, including plastic sheeting, flooring and materials for leaking barns and roofs
  • mattresses, blankets and tent beds/cots
  • makeshift schools and activities or children
  • wood for heating and cooking
  • counseling, especially for children

Mercy Corps' response is focusing on the most vulnerable refugees, especially the children. More than 1700 have been assisted to date. Emergency relief to "under-12" children and infants includes clothing, blankets and medicines. In every camp and host family home selected for rapid intervention, Mercy Corps is responding to the refugees' top needs: infant formula, medicines and vitamins for children and the elderly and blankets for infants. Items are being purchased locally. This operation is financed entirely by private funds.

How To Help

By Mail
Mercy Corps International
Refugee Relief Fund
PO Box 2669 Dept. W
Portland, OR 97208-2669

By Phone
1-800-292-3355 x250

Since 1979, Mercy Corps International has provided over $450 million in assistance to more than 60 countries. Based in Portland, Seattle and Washington, DC, Mercy Corps is known nationally and internationally for its quick-response, high-impact programs. Over 94 percent of the agency's resources are allocated directly to programs that help the poor.

Material Goods

At this time Mercy Corps is not accepting individual donations of clothing, food, blankets or other supplies, which are expensive to sort, pack, store, and ship.