Russia

OCHA Humanitarian action in Chechnya and Neighbouring Republics (Russian Federation) Apr 2006

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Situation Report
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Posted
Originally published
HIGHLIGHTS
Meeting of government and humanitarian community representatives

On 5 April OCHA office hosted a meeting between representatives of the government of Ingushetia and the humanitarian community. The meeting was mainly devoted to the planned process of return of IDPs to permanent places of residence in Chechnya and the forthcoming closure of temporary settlements in Ingushetia. At present UNHCR is closely monitoring the verification process for the IDPs residing in temporary settlements in Ingushetia, which is jointly organized by the Migration Services of Ingushetia and Chechnya and the Chechen Forced Migrants Committee.

Missions to the North Caucasus

On 10-15 April ECHO representatives conducted a monitoring mission in the North Caucasus. On 13 April OCHA arranged a mission for ECHO to visit Grozny, Grozny Rural, Achkhoi-Martan and Urus-Martan Districts of Chechnya. ECHO also joined WHO on 14 April on their operational mission to Shelkovskoi District of Chechnya.

In addition to that the Inter-Agency Security Assessment Mission was conducted in the period of 1-11 April. The mission was lead by Mr. Kovvuri Reddy, Chief Security Advisor for UNDSS. UN representatives from agency headquarters and locally-based staff joined the mission. The mission's main objective was to assess the security environment in Chechnya and the North Caucasus more broadly. The mission met with authorities, ministries of interior, local UN staff, and NGOs. The mission visited Chechnya, including the southern districts, Dagestan, Stavropol krai, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia and Ingushetia. The mission will be formally making the recommendation that all of Chechnya be reassessed as a Phase IV security area. This recommendation will shortly go to UNDSS New York, which will pass it on to the Secretary-General's office for final approval.

On 24-26 April the RC led a working mission including OCHA, UNDP and UNHCR to the North Caucasus and met with the President of Ingushetia and the government officials in Chechnya and North Ossetia.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees visits the Russian Federation

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, visited the Russian Federation from 5 to 11 April. The objective of his visit was to establish a platform for higher level of cooperation between the Russian Federation and UNHCR. During his one week mission, Mr. Guterres met with senior government officials from a number of ministries, including the ministry of Foreign Affairs, EMERCOM, and the ministry of Interior and the Federal Migration Service. He also met with parliamentarians, NGOs, and members of the UN Country Team to discuss inter alia global cooperation as well as the asylum system, the situation of statelessness, and internal displacement in the Russian Federation. Mr. Guterres also traveled to Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and St. Petersburg to meet senior government officials, civic society and refugees and displaced persons.

HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Protection

As of 30 April 2006, a total of 24,162 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Chechnya (5,530 families) were registered for assistance in Ingushetia in the database of UNHCR's implementing partner, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). Of this total, 8,828 persons (1,954 families) were in temporary settlements, and 15,334 persons (3,576 families) in private accommodation. From 1-30 April, Vesta, who monitors the Adler and Spartak checkpoints, reported individual returns of 132 persons (29 families) from Ingushetia to Chechnya and new arrivals of 4 persons (1 family) from Chechnya to Ingushetia. During March, 311 persons (59 families) were de-registered by DRC in Ingushetia and registered for assistance in Chechnya.

During the second half of April, the Migration Departments of Chechnya and Ingushetia and the Chechen Forced Migrants Committee started to verify the physical presence of IDPs in 72 temporary settlements in Ingushetia. The authorities agreed on UNHCR's presence during this verification process to ensure that the principles of well-informed and voluntary choice were respected. IDPs physically present and able to provide original documentation were recorded on special forms and asked about the status of their shelter in Chechnya and their intention to locally integrate in Ingushetia, remain temporarily in Ingushetia, or return to Chechnya within the year. The need of potential returnees for alternative accommodation in Chechnya was also tracked. In monitoring the process, UNHCR did not observe any attempts to influence the choices of IDPs. Some inconsistencies were, however, noted in the modalities of recording IDPs on the forms and in tracking the physical presence of those not currently registered by the migration services.

In Chechnya, following accusations by the Prime Minister of abuses in the temporary accommodation centers (TACs) hosting IDPs and returnees, a governmental commission was tasked to verify the housing conditions of all TAC residents in order to identify those in possession of habitable shelter. While no cases of forcible eviction from the TACs were reported, UNHCR is closely monitoring the situation and advocating with the local authorities to ensure that alternative accommodation is provided when needed.

During April, the 11 UNHCR-supported legal counselling centres (LCCs) in Chechnya and Ingushetia provided 520 consultations to citizens in the two republics. This brings total consultations in 2006 to 2,050, out of which 80% have been in the 9 LCCs in Chechnya. Trends did not change significantly, with civil cases largely related to documentation, including citizenship of returning refugees, housing and property issues, compensation and disputes with the migration authorities on IDP entitlements. Criminal cases, including abductions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and accusations of participation in anti-governmental activities, continued to be reported in Chechnya but were on the increase in Ingushetia.

Food

During April WFP completed the first distribution cycle by providing about 267 tons of food commodities to 25,179 beneficiaries in Grozny. A slightly improved pipeline situation allows for continuation of the second cycle in both republics. It will commence at the beginning of May for a reduced number of beneficiaries - about 111,000 persons in Chechnya and some 16,800 IDPs in Ingushetia. In April, DRC closed the 6th cycle of its food aid project. Beneficiaries: 94,587 (out of 96,057 planned) residents of Chechnya and around 5,500 IDPs in Dagestan. The ration consisted of wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil and salt. The WFP Food for Education programme was implemented in 453 schools and pre-school educational institutions in Chechnya by providing some 794 tons of food commodities to feed 128,238 children in April and May. UNICEF and Caritas Internationalis continued to support 4 Children Centers (kindergartens) catering to 590 IDP children in Ingushetia.

In April some 70 participants continued to implement Food for Work projects in Grozny, Achkhoi-Martan and Shatoy districts. Within the joint WFP state farm project some 50 hectares of apple orchards were pruned and whitewashed. It is planned that 40 percent of the yield will be provided to schoolchildren as a supplement to the WFP Food-for-Education programme. Other small projects include water pipeline construction in Shatoi district and rehabilitation of the premises for cafeterias for vulnerable families in Grozny. About 7 tons of food commodities were distributed in Achkhoy-Martan district for the works completed in March. Six hairdressers formerly trained within the Food-for-Training project provided free services to IDPs in Ingushetia and received 900 kg of food at the end of April. Starting from April the Dining Hall project was implemented in a new premises rehabilitated by the personnel of the canteen and Food-for-Work project's participants. Within this project WFP provided some 13 tons of food commodities to serve hot meals to 1,600 people (323 families). WFP also supported the TB project by providing about 13 tons of food to 343 TB patients in Ingushetia and about 11 tons of food to 338 TB patients in Chechnya.

So far confirmed contributions to WFP constitute 13% of the planned requirements of $22 mln. Within the next 6 months the operation will face considerable shortfalls in all food items constituting Emergency Operation food basket and required for all WFP programmes in the North Caucasus. WFP has appealed for urgently needed additional funds to ensure continuity of basic food distribution to thousands of vulnerable people in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Shelter

During April, UNHCR provided 8 box-tents for IDP families voluntarily returning to Chechnya and 9 for IDP families choosing to remain in Ingushetia. Of the latter, 3 were from Chechnya, 4 from Prigorodny, and 2 were local families whose houses had been destroyed by fire. This brought the total distribution since the inception of the programme to 1,826 box-tents.

UNHCR selected in April the beneficiaries for its initial 2006 permanent shelter activities for IDPs from Chechnya and Prigorodny wishing to integrate in Ingushetia and already in possession of land for construction. In cooperation with DRC, 27 families will be provided construction materials to build houses of 48 square meters.

Also during April, UNHCR approved a first series of quick impact projects (QIPs) to be implemented in Chechnya and Ingushetia. Three QIPs were approved in Ingushetia, of which two for income generation activities and one for family resiliency. In Chechnya, 14 QIPs were approved, of which 13 for income generation and one for community development.

Health

In April WHO continued monitoring the situations with avian flu in the Southern Federal okrug and with 'poisoning' of local population in Shelkovskoi District of Chechnya. On 28 April a special meeting was held with the WHO Regional Advisor on Communicable Disease and Surveillance in Moscow to discuss avian flu in Russia and in the North Caucasus. WHO also visited Shelkovskoi district of Chechnya, including the central district hospital in Shelkovskoi, the district hospital in Chervlennoe and midwifery points (FAPs) in Staroshedrinskaya and Kobi and met representatives of district administration, the central district hospital and the Chechen Parliament to discuss the situation with poisoning.

Within its Expanded Programme for Immunization, which aims at increasing the coverage and quality of the immunization services for children in Chechnya and Ingushetia, UNICEF procured 293,000 disposable syringes for health care facilities in Chechnya and Ingushetia. On 3 April UNICEF organized and conducted, in close cooperation with the Chechen Ministry of Health, a conference aimed at discussing cooperation between the two agencies and for further developing a strategy for the implementation of the National Expanded Programme for Immunization in the Chechen Republic. The conference - facilitated by Dr. Popovic, UNICEF's EPI Regional Advisor, and Dr. Bakaev, Chief Epidemiologist of Chechnya - hosted some 35 health professionals (from 15 rural districts and Grozny) who are involved in vaccination activities.

During the reporting period within its Mother Empowerment Project, UNICEF, through its training sessions, targeted some 386 resident and IDP pregnant women, mothers and other primary child care providers living in Malgobecksky district of Ingushetia. The project has been carried out by specialists (pediatricians and gynecologists) from the Republican Centre for Disease Prevention on the premises of the Central District Hospital. In parallel, UNICEF distributed brochures on breastfeeding to every pregnant women and mother attending the sessions. In Chechnya, UNICEF's partner is the Republican Children's Policlinic in Grozny. Within the framework of this cooperation, which has just been launched, some 4,000 mothers will be targeted.

In parallel, UNICEF continued to provide support to two Centres of Psychosocial Support for people living with HIV/AIDS (established since last year and maintained under the aegis of the Ingush and Chechen State HIV/AIDS Centres), including through the distribution of essential supplies. During the reporting period, counseling was provided to 43 individuals, including 30 HIV-positive women and 13 family members from HIV-affected families in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Education

On 28 April, a UNICEF team visited in Grozny two of the 25 Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers that have been established and managed by UNICEF in Chechnya, with a view to providing a total of 1,250 pre-school age children with basic education and care. During the month of April all 25 centers were provided with new toys and educational materials. In the two centres visited, a total of 100 children are being prepared to enter primary school in September 2006. During a meeting with the Chechen Minister of Education, the UNICEF team discussed technical issues related to the provision of Chechen textbooks in regular schools and the operation of the 25 Early Childhood Education centers.

The number of children attending the 12 'parallel' schools for IDPs managed by UNICEF in Ingushetia - in partnership with IRC, HWA and CPCD - has remained stable at 1,510. UNICEF, in cooperation with its implementing partners and the Ingush MoE, agreed to prepare and conduct celebrations for International Children's Protection Day (1 June), when children from IDP schools and local regular schools will be jointly involved in staging plays dedicated to child rights and peace. UNICEF will provide the best participants (to be chosen from IDP, single parent and socially disadvantaged families) with school bags and T-shirts promoting peace and tolerance among children in the NC.

Peace and Tolerance

In April 2006, UNICEF's education team organized a workshop on "An encyclopaedia on traditional peacemaking of the North Caucasian peoples" in Nazran. Ten specialists (scientists, historians, ethnographers) gathered to discuss and develop major aspects of the first ethnographic/peace education project in the region. The event was attended by the Deputy Minister of Nationalities as well as other republican officials, who expressed their full support for UNICEF's peace education programme. Similar events have been organised by other UNICEF partners in the region: "Youth Forum" in Ingushetia, "League of Children and Mothers Protection" in Dagestan, SERLO in Chechnya. In total, over 3,000 children took part in these events. The children themselves elected the most 'tolerant' teachers and students, who received gifts provided by UNICEF (bags and t-shirts with peace- and tolerance-related messages.

Water and Sanitation

In Ingushetia, IRC continued to provide water and sanitation services to the war-affected community. 3611m3 of water were delivered to 61 spontaneous settlements, 3 points in the private sector and 2 public institutions using 6 UNHCR water trucks and 2 rental water trucks. 1610, 4m3 of garbage were removed from 105 spontaneous settlements and 7 public institutions using 6 UNHCR garbage trucks. 2066m3 of sewage were removed from 99 spontaneous settlements. 20 water samples were taken from water tanks. 1 water point and 4 water lines were maintained. The work on capacity water tap replacement was conducted in 1 settlement. 3 baths (repairing of boilers, water taps and gas taps replacing) were maintained. 20 containers were installed in 20 spontaneous settlements.

The IRC also continued to deliver water and sanitation services to the war-affected population of Chechnya. 7122m3 of water were delivered to 108 water points in Grozny using 8 rental water trucks. 25% of all water storage tanks were checked daily. 25 water tests were conducted by Sanitary Epidemiological Center specialists from IRC water trucks, water points, water tanks and bladders. 13 water tanks with a total volume 130m3 was disinfected by Groznensky Disinfection Station specialists. 1500m3 of garbage were removed using 3 rental garbage trucks in Oktyabrsky district. Pest control was conducted in 6 hospitals in Oktyabrsky district of Grozny.

The Water and Sanitation project continued to be implemented by UNICEF, through the Polish Humanitarian Organization. Safe drinking water was distributed to hospitals, schools, kindergartens and private users in Grozny, for a total of 117,000 beneficiaries. The average water production and distribution capacity reached 733 cubic metres per day. Water was delivered, on a four-route-per-day system and through 20 trucks, to 272 distribution points located in four districts of Grozny, including 32 places in medical facilities, 64 places in educational institutions, 7 TACs, and 171 points in residential area of the city. In addition, surplus water, purified and accumulated at one of the two water pumping bases, was carried to additional beneficiaries by two trucks that are provided and maintained by EMERCOM. UNICEF, PHO and the local water provider (Grozvodokanal) continued to discuss future steps for the planned, progressive hand-over to the local authorities, by end-2006, of the management of the water purification and distribution project in Grozny.

UNICEF through the State Drama Theater from Chechnya, completed a series of drama plays promoting hygiene awareness and appropriate consumption of safe drinking water among residents of Grozny. Some 51 water distribution points in schools, kindergartens, TACs and residential areas in Grozny were covered during the reporting period through this activity.

Mine Action

On the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April, UNICEF displayed in Grozny a photo exhibition on "Mines Are Hurting Children. This Should Not Be Happening!". The opening ceremony was organized in the premises of EMERCOM of Chechnya, in the presence of senior officials from the Ministries of Health, Education, Labour and Social Development, the Presidential Administration, as well as NGO community, the ICRC and child mine survivors. The event, which was broadcast by local TV, provided UNICEF with a valuable opportunity to draw the attention of government officials, as well as of the media, towards the problem of landmines and unexploded ordnance in Chechnya, and to advocate for the timely implementation of measures that would ensure better protection for local children.

On 28 April 2006, UNICEF conducted a mission to Chechnya during which a meeting was held with Mr. Nukhajiev, the Human Rights Ombudsman in Chechnya, with whom the possibility of creating the post of Child Rights Ombudsperson was discussed. Mr. Nukhajiev expressed his concern about the situation of children in Chechnya and reported that his suggestion to the President for the establishment of a Child Protection Department within the office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson had been approved; the new unit should start functioning in June.The technical support that UNICEF could provide to governmental agencies dealing with child rights was also discussed. A meeting with Mr. Karamsolt Kugurkhaev, the Human Rights Ombudsman for Ingushetia, was also convened by UNICEF on 26 April. In the course of the meeting, a governmental report on human rights issues in Ingushetia (related to 2005) was shared with UNICEF.

UNICEF continued to further foster, through its local implementing partners, appropriate conditions for social reintegration of mine/UXO-affected children and children with disabilities. In particular, UNICEF continued to support vocational trainings in tailoring and computing for children living in Grozny, Achkhoy-Martanovskiy district and Vedeno. The Society for the Disabled is responsible for the identification, registration of children and effective day-to-day implementation of the project, which currently serves some 70 beneficiaries. A group of 20 children from Shali is currently receiving psychosocial treatment through individual and group counseling, music, game and art therapies through a program conducted by NGO "Let's save the generation" and UNICEF.

Funding of the Humanitarian Operation

The Financial Tracking System database for the 2006 Transitional Workplan for the North Caucasus was created in April and is now publicly available at http://ocha.unog.ch/fts/reports/reportlist.asp?section=CE&record_ID=714.

For 2006 to date some US $23.8 in donations have been recorded in 2006. Already six donors (ECHO, the US, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway) have contributed over US $1 million, and seven others have made smaller contributions or pledges. It is also notable that a number of these contributions were made early in the year, which is essential in order to assure that aid can continue uninterrupted to those in need.

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