Mercy Corps relief team enters Chechnya - staff find anguish and evidence of brutality

A Mercy Corps team traveled to Chechnya this week to provide emergency assistance to victims of months of bombing and street warfare. They found beleaguered refugees returning from neighboring Ingushetia, and drawings of rape and torture painted on the walls of burned out buildings.
Mercy Corps' staff estimates 100,000 Chechen refugees have returned to their homeland to find their houses destroyed and their communities burned to the ground. According to Mercy Corps' team leader, who had worked in Chechnya during the 1994-96 war, "It is a very gripping and grim scene in the Chechen villages. Living conditions are dismal and many families are sick. Everything is badly needed."

The team was welcomed to the villages of Assinovskaya and Sernovodsk where 25,000 internally displaced people are staying, tripling the normal population. Local authorities fear a flu epidemic and are urgently requesting more fever and flu medicines, hygiene supplies and food. The Mercy Corps team distributed emergency medical/hygiene kits for 1,700 of the most vulnerable people in Assinovskaya and made arrangements for a distribution in Sernovodsk this week.

Mercy Corps is now preparing additional emergency distributions, and planning a kitchen that will feed 1,200 families daily with a hot meal, and the repair and operation of a bakery that will produce 38,000 loaves of bread per day.

All items are being purchased locally. This program is financed entirely by private funds.