UNHCR seeks $37 million for CIS programmes

Press Releases, 23 December 1997

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees today launched a special appeal for $37 million to help millions of displaced people living in often destitute conditions across the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Although fighting has ended in all of the seven major conflicts which erupted in the region since 1988, the area is still suffering the after-effects of some of the largest and most complex population movements in recent history.

The 1998 special appeal aims to bring relief to many of the nine million people displaced in the region since the collapse of communism. The recipients include millions fleeing conflict or inter-ethnic tension, entire peoples deported during Stalin's rule who are now returning to their homelands, and asylum seekers from other parts of the world. They will be helped either to repatriate or to settle in their new homes.

UNHCR projects for 1998 include providing food and shelter for the most needy, rebuilding shattered infrastructure in former conflict zones, and income-generating projects to promote self-sufficiency. Extra emphasis will be given to schemes to help governments develop their capacity to care for returnees and the displaced.

Russian Federation

$10 million is needed to help the Russian authorities cope with an influx of 4 million people in recent years. These people include refugees, returning ethnic Russians, and the largest number of illegal immigrants and transit migrants in the entire region. UNHCR will provide material assistance, while stepping up work with the Russian migration authorities to ensure that asylum seekers and the displaced are adequately protected.


Georgia $10.3 million, Azerbaijan $7.1 million, Armenia $4.2 million
Fighting in the Caucasus has subsided, but more than 1.7 million people remain displaced as a result of conflicts in Georgia, Chechnya and Nagorno Karabakh. In Armenia and Azerbaijan, the displaced are often living in abject poverty. Some are facing their fifth bitter winter living in railway carriages, tents or abandoned buildings. UNHCR will continue to provide food aid, shelter, education and health care for the most vulnerable, along with projects to promote refugee legislation. Meanwhile, plans are being made for the return of refugees, should negotiations for a Nagorno Karabakh peace settlements prove successful. In Georgia, UNHCR continues to support efforts to find political solutions to the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflicts and to promote voluntary returns to these areas. During 1998 it plans to help a substantial number of the 29,000 Ossetian refugees currently in exile in the Russian Federation to begin returning to South Ossetia. In Abkhazia, UNHCR is working to repair infrastructure to help returnees there reintegrate successfully.

Ukraine $2.3 million
UNHCR will continue to work with the Ukrainian authorities on the reintegration of some 250,000 Crimean Tatars who have recently returned after 50 years of exile in Central Asia. Shelter and income generation projects will be backed by schemes to help some 90,000 potentially stateless Crimean Tatars become Ukrainian citizens.

Other programmes to be funded under the 1998 special appeal include technical assistance for the Belarus government to help it cope with an estimated 200,000 illegal migrants, and aid for refugees and the displaced in Moldova.

The appeal is being issued jointly with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with which UNHCR co-operates closely.




Displacement in Georgia

Tens of thousands of civilians are living in precarious conditions, having been driven from their homes by the crisis in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.

On the morning of August 12, the first UNHCR-chartered plane carrying emergency aid arrived in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the first UN assistance to arrive in the country since fighting broke out the previous week. The airlift brought in 34 tonnes of tents, jerry cans, blankets and kitchen sets from UNHCR's central emergency stockpile in Dubai. Items were then loaded onto trucks at the Tbilisi airport for transport and distribution.

A second UNHCR flight landed in Tbilisi on August 14, with a third one expected to arrive the following day. In addition, two UNHCR aid flights are scheduled to leave for Vladikavkaz in the Russian Federation the following week with mattresses, water tanks and other supplies for displaced South Ossetians.

Working with local partners, UNHCR is now providing assistance to the most vulnerable and needy. These include many young children and family members separated from one another. The situation is evolving rapidly and the refugee agency is monitoring the needs of the newly displaced population, which numbered some 115,000 on August 14.

Posted on 15 August 2008

Displacement in Georgia

Ukraine: Sorting through the Wreckage

Conflict has changed the city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. "We used to have such a beautiful, calm, tidy city," says Angelina, a social worker. Today, it is full of destroyed homes and infrastructure, a casualty of the fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces. More than half of the inhabitants - some 70,000 people - fled the city during the combat earlier this year. In recent weeks, with the city back under government control, some 15,000 have returned. But they face many challenges. Maria, aged 80, returned to a damaged home and sleeps in the kitchen with her family. She worries about getting her pension. The UN refugee agency has transported several tons of hygiene items and kitchen equipment to the city for distribution to those who lost their homes. Photojournalist Iva Zimova recently accompanied UNHCR staff as they visited more than 100 families to give put aid.

Ukraine: Sorting through the Wreckage

Displacement, Disability and Uncertainty in Ukraine

To date, around 275,500 people have been displaced by fighting in Ukraine. They include some who live with disability, including Viktoria, aged 41, and her husband, Aleksandr, 40, who both have cerebral palsy. Life is difficult enough under normal circumstances for the couple, who also have two sons; 20-year-old Dima, and Ivan aged 19 months. Now it has become a real struggle.

At the end of July, shelling in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk forced Viktoria and Aleksandr to flee to the neighbouring Kharkiv region. It wasn't long before Viktoria's medication ran out. In a desperate bid to help, Aleksandr called the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, which found them transportation and accommodation in Kharkiv.

From there, they were taken to the Promotei Summer Camp, located near the town of Kupiansk. The forest, fresh air and a lake near the camp offered a perfect setting to spend the summer. But, like 120 other internally displaced people (IDP) living there, all Viktoria and Aleksandr could think about was home. They had hoped to return by the Autumn. But it soon came and went.

Today, it is still not safe to go back to Donetsk. Moreover, the camp has not been prepared for the coming winter and the administration has asked people to leave by October 15. Neither Viktoria nor Aleksandr know where they and their young son can go next. The following photographs of the couple and their youngest child were taken by Emine Ziyatdinova.

Displacement, Disability and Uncertainty in Ukraine

Ukraine: Helping Hands Play video

Ukraine: Helping Hands

Ukrainian individuals and organizations, like Everybody Can Help, have been helping people displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine with clothing, food and other aid items. The volunteers at Everybody Can Help have helped more than 25,000 people.
Ukraine: Destruction in DonetskPlay video

Ukraine: Destruction in Donetsk

Alexander Kovalenko is one of the last people still living on his street in Donetsk, where the conflict in eastern Ukraine has left a trail of destruction. His home was struck by six shells and the roof was blown off. Now Alexander lives amid the rubble, in a little room he has fixed up, waiting for peace to return.
Ukraine: Returning and RebuildingPlay video

Ukraine: Returning and Rebuilding

The small town of Nikishino stood on the frontline of the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Two weeks into the ceasefire, 200 people have returned there determined to rebuild.