Russia

Salvation Army sets up assistance programme for Chechen refugees in Ingushetia

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CAPTAIN Geoff Ryan (Regional Officer, Russia South) has initiated a Salvation Army programme of humanitarian
assistance for Chechen refugees by hiring an office and setting up a team of helpers.
The team is based in Nazran, Republic of Ingushetia, its office having formerly been used by Medical Emergency Relief International (MERLIN) - a non-governmental organisation based in the UK - during the first Chechen war.

Four people were initially hired to form the basis of the Army team in Ingushetia. The project manager is Idriss Topaivitch Musaev. Dagman Saidaxmetova Murmazaleva, a journalist by trade, is the administrative assistant. The interpreter/office
assistant is Kameta Rasulovna Saidova, a translator and former English teacher from Chechnya. She is fluent in English, Chechen and Russian and is proficient in French. The team also has a driver, Said-Hussein Kaurhukaev, who was Idriss's driver in Chechnya.

Priority was given to purchasing office furniture, stationery supplies and a mobile phone, making repairs to the office and getting passport photos of the team members for Salvation Army ID documents. Idriss was also instructed to investigate registering the Salvation Army in Nazran either as a religious organisation or as a charitable fund. This is necessary to give the team a legal basis for operating. He is also to organise a meeting with Valerie Petrovitch Kooksa (the local head of the Ministry of Emergencies - the Russian body coordinating all humanitarian efforts in Ingushetia) to inform him officially of the Army's presence and activities.

Office equipment is being purchased in Stavropol and Rostov, through the corps in these cities, and it will be shipped to Nazran within the next 10 days.

While he was in Nazran, Captain Ryan met with Médicins Sans Frontières representatives. They were on an assessment trip and plan to undertake a one-off distribution of medicines in partnership with a local organisation. The captain observed that the level of non-governmental organisation involvement in the area remains minimal, although Médicins du Monde has set up contact points, mainly in the official encampments.

AUTHOR: Captain Geoff Ryan

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