Russia

PINF Humanitarian operations in Chechnya and Ingushetia Dec 2002

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published


1. Introduction
The People in Need Foundation is a Prague-based non-governmental, non-profit organization founded shortly after the fall of communism in then Czechoslovakia. PINF is the biggest indigenous NGO in the post-communist area. PINF has operated in Chechnya in 1994-95 and again since January 2000.

2. General situation

December was marked by several Muslim and Russian holidays, most importantly by the end of the holy month of Ramadan, falling on the first December weekend. The feast followed right after the closure of one of the six major tented IDP camps in Ingushetia, but was not accompanied by any major changes in terms of stability or security situation, despite several medially interesting events and incidents. The overall security situation in Chechnya has not changed much, marked by ambush attacks, explosions, local fighting and special (mopping up) operations carried out by the federal troops. In some areas in southern Chechnya the special operations have been going on for over a month, not interfering with the lives of civilians and leading to annihilation of several criminal and paramilitary groups as well as to disclosure of weapon and cash caches.

On January 9, the federal state authorities informed that Russian national Nina Davidovich, head of NGO Druzhba, abducted in Chechnya on July 23, was released.

Chechnya

December 5-7 marked the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which was not accompanied by any extraordinary events in the Chechen Republic.

On December 18, the military commander of the united forces in the North Caucasus, gen. Troshev was sacked after refusing to be seconded to another region of the Russian Federation.

On December 27, a heavy explosion totally destroyed the administration complex in the Chechen capital Grozny, claiming lives of over 80 people, with another more than 100 wounded, among those being some top politicians such as the head of republican security council Rudnik Dudayev and the vice-head of the Chechen government, Amnat Batyzheva. The blast was allegedly caused by explosives forcibly brought to the premises of the administration in two trucks by suicide bombers.

Following the administration blast, the military commander of Chechnya as well as the military commander of the city of Grozny were removed. Arkadiy Viktorovich Bakhin was appointed new military commander of the Chechen Republic, responsible also for issuing access permits to Chechnya for the international humanitarian community. With earlier replacement of the head of the Chechen government (Mikhail Babich appointed in late November), and establishment of proper Ministry of Interior (with Ruslan Tsagaev appointed Minister) the recent appointments in the military structures mark the largest personal changes in Chechnya since the establishment of the pro-Moscow Chechen government.

On December 31, the mandate of the assistance group to Chechnya of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe expired without prolongation.

Ingushetia

The closure of the Aki-Yurt tented camp, completed on December 2, alerted the international humanitarian community that the process may continue also in other five big camps. This scenario however did not prove valid. Still, some movements of IDPs from Ingushetia have been noted, predominantly from the big camps. By the end of December, the IDP registering agency, Danish Refugee Council, registered in Ingushetia 102,833 IDPs, out of which 19,374 were living in tented camps, 27,889 in spontaneous settlements and 55,570 with host families.

Towards the end of the month several NGO offices in Nazran were assaulted by unknown perpetrators, leading to theft of money and other assets, and in one case to serious injuries of one security officer.

3. Humanitarian response

In December international aid agencies were asked to apply for new permit for the work on the Chechen territory, regardless previous agreements and permission arrangements. In the meeting with the vice-head of the Chechen government, Amnat Batyzheva, in Nazran on December 18, the aid agencies were requested to present a bulk of documents for the re-registration.

The situation in Ingushetia after the closure of the Aki-Yurt camp stabilized with all former camp residents being traced to the new places of their stay by the UNHCR, and aid agencies. The threat of further camps being closed did not materialize.

Dutch citizen Arjan Erkel heading the Swiss branch of the Medecins sans Frontiers, abducted in Dagestan on August 12, remains incommunicado.

4. PINF activities in Chechnya and Ingushetia

Highlights

  • Reconstruction of a special school in Grozny started
  • The first HIV/AIDS prophylaxis campaign in Chechnya continues targeting adults
  • Children festival organized at school No. 7 in Grozny, with direct participation of 380 children

Chechnya

Food distribution in Grozny (WFP)

Due to the lack of commodities at the warehouses, the distribution only started on December 20 and lasted till early January, the state holidays around the end of the year and major security incidents in Grozny making the whole process rather complicated. The monthly ration included 10 kg of wheat flour and 150 g of salt per person. No oil nor sugar was distributed in any food program. In the institutional feeding scheme, where institutional beneficiaries in kindergartens and hospitals are assisted with basic dry food, a newly reconstructed and re-opened TBC hospital in Grozny was included among beneficiaries.


PINF Distribution figures: Relief distribution, October, November, December 2002
Commodity
Month
Wheat Flour (kg)
Salt (kg)
Oil (liters)
Sugar (kg)
Monthly ration per person
October
10
-
-
-
November
13.5
-
-
0.35
December
10
0.15
-
-
Month
Beneficiaries
Wheat Flour (kg)
Salt (kg)
Oil (liters)
Sugar (kg)
October
44 123
442 280
-
-
-
November
46 107
622 440
-
-
16 080
December
44 490
447 980
6 660
-
-
Total
134 720
1 512 700
6 660
-
16 080

PINF Distribution figures: Institutional feeding, December 2002

Commodity
Month
Wheat Flour (kg)
Salt (kg)
Oil (liters)
Sugar (kg)
Monthly ration per person
Kindergartens
5.6
0.1
-
-
Hospitals
10
0.1
-
-
Institutions
Beneficiaries
Wheat Flour (kg)
Salt (kg)
Oil (liters)
Sugar (kg)
Kindergartens
571
3 197.6
57.1
-
-
Hospitals
270
2 700
27
-
-
Total
841
5 897.6
84.1
-
-

Food for work (WFP)

Food for work program activities in Chechnya continued to a degree possible and allowed by the weather conditions and various religious and state holidays throughout the month. The street cleaning groups in Grozny were involved in cleaning of snow from the roads and pavements and pouring sand on the ice-covered ground. Food for work was also used in the newly started reconstruction initiative at a special school in the Leninski district of Grozny.

The overall philosophy of the Food for work program is to provide targeted food assistance to unemployed or employed but without salaries, at the same time contributing to the rehabilitation of the war torn republic. Altogether in December a total of 956 workers have participated in the program, working for 17 675 man-days.

Activity
Workers
Man-days
Flour (kg)
Oil (liters)
Sugar (kg)
Building reconstruction
11
151
1 283.5
-
-
Grozny -- cleaning, planting, social
542
10 656
90 576
-
-
Grozny rural -- cleaning, planting, social
343
6 808
57 868
-
-
Shelter program*
60*
N/A
6 000
120
120
October total
956
17 675
155 727.5
120
120
* For the shelter program a special ration is calculated containing 100 g of flour, 2 kg of sugar and 2 l of oil, as the work on one house takes 10.5 man-days in average.

Emergency shelter program (UNHCR)

The distribution of emergency shelter materials to private households in three districts of Grozny continued in December from PINF distribution points situated in the city as in December no material was made available for transport by the donor. Due to cold weather and many holidays the work was slowed down but continued at a steady pace. By the end of the year, out of the targeted number of 1 500, 472 households were assisted with all and 770 with some emergency shelter material. The distribution will continue throughout January as well as transport of the lacking commodities to PINF warehouses in Grozny.

On the reception of the roofing materials, the beneficiaries are responsible for covering their roofs themselves, which will now not be possible before the temperature allows in March-April.. Most vulnerable beneficiaries have the possibility of being included into a food-for-work program. In December, this opportunity was used by 60 beneficiaries.

The emergency shelter program implemented in Chechnya by PINF and UNHCR since mid-2000 aims at providing basic roofing materials to beneficiaries in private sector, on one-dry-room basis. The beneficiaries are vulnerable families living in the damaged Chechen capital Grozny and IDP families in Chechnya, Ingushetia and other parts of the North Caucasus.

Non-food item distribution (UNHCR)

Distribution of non-food items to health and child institutions in Chechnya started on November 27, ended on December 12. The basic non-food items (blankets, bed-linen and sanitary napkins for women) were distributed to institutional beneficiaries on the whole Chechen territory on the basis on an ongoing needs assessment, undertaken throughout the year. In the end 5 801 beneficiaries in 54 institutions were assisted.

District
No. of institutions
Capacity
Blankets
Bed-linen
Sanitary napkins
Grozny city
24
4247
2971
2586
2090
Grozny-rural (Groznyenskoselski) district
8
435
300
280
430
Urus-Martanovski district
2
410
225
125
290
Shalinski district
3
680
340
300
330
Kurchaloyevski district
2
165
100
70
190
Nadterechnyi district
2
170
150
150
Achkoi-Martanovski district
2
189
120
120
140
Gudermeski district
2
430
340
280
380
Sunzenski district
2
120
85
80
Nozhay-Yurtovski district
2
250
190
160
200
Hospitals in highest need -- special selection
4
510
330
280
360
Most vulnerable Grozny inhabitants -- cellar people
1
850
650
649
500
Total
54
8456
5801
5000
4990

Rehabilitation of schools and health institutions in Chechnya

Despite cold weather the rehabilitation in the kindergarten No. 54 situated in the Staropromyslovski district of Grozny continued, with all external works completed. After the reconstruction the kindergarten will be included into the network of the pre-school child-friendly spaces operated in Ingushetia and Chechnya by the Czech branch of Caritas Internationalis. The reconstruction is funded through a sub-grant from US State Department Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (US BPRM) , administered by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

In the framework of the same sub-project, rehabilitation of special school for children with mental problems situated in the Leninski district of Grozny, was started in mid-December. The school, located among ruins of block of flats that have been torn down, is not functioning at all at the moment. It has a capacity of 450, some of those (currently 24) are educated by the teachers in one private apartment, where tentative classes are organized. These can however only reach some five per cent of the pupils. The school formerly served to children who had any kinds of retardation and needed special attention from the school staff. These would be both mentally retarded children but also children lacking certain basic skills in the early stages of the educational process, children with dysgraphia, dyslexia etc. After ten years of turmoil and instability marked by two bloody wars, the pupils in the school are those who need additional attention because of the post-traumatic situation caused by the warfare and, most frequently, direct experience with death and utter destruction. Although no precise data is available, it is estimated that 85-90% Grozny children fall into this category. The school has already developed a capacity for covering special needs of any children, and will be included into the regular educational scheme in Chechnya, provided added attention, which at other schools is currently mostly organized by the international humanitarian community.

On December 28, one day after the explosion in the administration building in Grozny, one wing of the school No. 7 in the Leninski district of Grozny went afire. The school was rehabilitated by PINF between September 2001 and June 2002 and after-school activities as well as psycho-social center have been organized there since summer 2002. The school staff, pupils and their parents participated in evacuation of equipment, furniture and other valuables from the school building, while fire brigades from Grozny, Argun and Gudermes were extinguishing the fire supported by water trucks of the Polish humanitarian organization. Neither the reason of the fire nor exact damages have yet been determined. Nevertheless, the school will start functioning normally after the school holidays, on January 15.

Psycho-social assistance, prophylaxis, campaigns (WHO)

Five psycho-social centers are operating in PINF rehabilitated school No. 7, 14, 16, 28 and 38 in Chechnya. In all centers, professional psychologists carry out therapeutic sessions and provide individual consultations to pupils, parents and teachers. The centers are extensively visited in the children's spare time, and serve as oases of calmness and peace as well as opportunity for personal development through games, handcraft and other activities. Group and individual therapy sessions are conducted in the centers, with involvement of pupils' families to the extent possible. The work of PINF centers concentrates mainly on post-traumatic problems, however, a significant part of the work is also devoted to the prevention of drug abuse and AIDS.

The special AIDS prophylaxis campaign, funded by WHO, which culminated on the World AIDS Day on December 1, continued throughout December with TV and radio spots and debates, shifting the focus from youth to adults. Special booklets and calendars were prepared for this target group, which were distributed to almost 50 000 people.

In the psycho-social work, PINF centers work in two-month therapeutic cycles. Since the start of their work in mid May, they have provided 616 individual or group therapy sessions to children, youth and adults, 158 of those in 80 sessions of November-December cycle.

On December 21, New Year's children festival was organized in the auditorium of school No. 7 in Grozny. Some 380 festival participants were nominated by PINF, CPCD, and local organizations SERLO, MALKH, Save the Generation and New Impulse, as well as the hosting school No. 7. The program consisted of songs, traditional dances, sketches and other performances and all participants received New Year presents donated by WHO and UNICEF.

Cellar people - "Podvalshchiki"

The support to this special group of most vulnerable inhabitants of Grozny has continued throughout the whole month. The project now benefits approximately 940 people, including children, elderly and handicapped, who are regularly visited by PINF monitors in Grozny and provided with all basic assistance ranging from WFP dry food distribution, distribution of cloths and other non-food items to medical care and psycho-social consultations. The intensified effort to ensure these beneficiaries proper documents which would make them eligible for reception of state social benefits and humanitarian assistance resulted in decreasing the number of food aid beneficiaries to 350 as the rest now receives their rations through regular distribution points.

In December, PINF has continuously distributed food rations and winter non-food items, kindly provided by other relief and UN agencies. Four stoves and 939 hygienic kits were donated by German organization HELP, 65 winter children jackets by World Vision and 400 children socks, and 650 bedding sets by the UNHCR. PINF has also distributed New Year's presents to children, partly donated by UNICEF, and winter shoes for the elderly.

Ingushetia

School network in Ingushetia (UNICEF)

Classes in twenty-three PINF-operated schools in Ingushetia continued throughout December. The closure of the IDP camp in Aki-Yurt, completed on December 2, led to decrease of pupils in PINF school located in the settlement from 210 to 95. All former pupils were traced by PINF staff to their new dwellings. The monitoring showed that two families relocated in northern Ingushetia and the children started attending other PINF schools in spontaneous settlements "Radiozavod" and "Voznesenskaya", almost ninety families returned to Chechnya, predominantly to Staropromyslovski district of Grozny, and some 15 families were still looking for more permanent resettlement within Ingushetia.

All children attending PINF school network received New Year's presents donated by UNICEF and at most locations special celebrations were organized.

PINF alternative tented and wooden schools in Ingushetia, providing educational opportunities to some 1700 pupils, constitute the largest alternative educational network in the republic.

People in Need Foundation -- Czech Republic
Field Office Nazran, Targim 40, Republic of Ingushetia, Russian Federation
Phone: +7/ 8732 / 22 11 24, 26 18 78
E-mail: kompaktnik@yahoo.com