During conflicts everywhere in the world, a large number of refugees and IDPs are taken in by private households. The expenditures incurring for accommodations, board, electricity, heating and water put the usually modest household budgets under great strain and quickly exceed the limits of traditionally generous hospitality. Although it is true that the services provided by such hosts have in the past been generally acknowledged, neither national authorities nor humanitarian organizations have so far rewarded them accordingly. Therefore Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation developed a concept how to assist host families (HF). Cash actions have indisputable advantages:
- Cash allocations enable the host families
to effect the timely purchase of those goods which are urgently needed
for their own survival and that of their guests.
- Through professional management, cash
programs can be converted into practice both immediately and efficiently,
creating direct local purchasing power.
- Compared with the traditional supply and distribution of emergency goods, the overhead expenses are small since there are neither transport nor warehouse expenses.
As a result of the second Chechen conflict in autumn 1999, more than 230,000 people fled to the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia. About 150,000 of them (or 70%) were taken in by host families. The remaining IDPs, who had neither relatives nor sufficient financial resources, had to be satisfied with shelters in railway wagons, tent camps or community centres.
Switzerland has committed itself to this region since 1994 - despite the increased security risks. Following thorough exploratory missions, SDC and the UNHCR jointly implemented a CfSh program for Ingush host families as of August 2000. The Division of SHA is responsible for developing the concept and for putting it into practice, while the UNHCR provides the logistics and assumes responsibility for the security of the SHA staff.
Approximately 16,000 host families have received compensation in the form of retroactive reimbursements amounting to the equivalent of USD 100 per family during winter 2000/01. Thanks to the support of local authorities and the reliability of the local postal system (for distributing the cash), it has been possible to carry out the program efficiently, without incident and in spite of the difficulties caused by strict security precautions.
IDPs in Host Family
In winter 2001/02 the number of Chechen IDPs that were forced to stay for a third winter in Ingushetia was still more than 140'000 persons, of whom 55% remained living with host families. Based on the urgent needs and the successful implementation of the first CfSh programme, SDC/UNHCR decided to repeat the CfSh programme for winter 2001/2002 in Ingushetia.
The repetition of the CfSh provided again a one-fold, unconditional financial contribution towards host families of an equivalent of USD 100 paid in Roubles. All in all, 10'861 beneficiaries were identified and paid with the funds which were directly transferred from Switzerland to the Ingush postal bank system. The respective post-offices informed the verified host families automatically about the date to collect the money and made the payments.
The criteria for eligibility as a beneficiary of the CfSh program were as follows:
- Host families having privately accommodated
at least 2 IDPs during the registration period
- Host families having their legal address
("Propiska") in Ingushetia, enlisted in the existing registration
lists and after verification by CfSh
- Host families get only one compensation, regardless the number of IDPs hosted, the space or the number of rooms, flats and houses provided or if rent is paid