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UNHCR resumes aid distribution to Chechens in Georgia

News Stories, 16 August 2002

© UNHCR/Geographic Information and Mapping Unit

AKHMETA, Georgia, August 16 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency today resumed aid activities for more than 3,800 Chechen refugees in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge after a two-week suspension due to heightened security concerns.

On Friday morning, UNHCR started distributing food in the Pankisi Gorge again after no further bombing was reported in the last week. The distribution was progressing smoothly as of mid-afternoon.

The refugee agency also began handing out new refugee cards for the over 3,800 Chechens who had re-registered with the Georgian government in April. The purpose of the re-registration was to give the authorities a clearer picture of the refugee population in the gorge so that they can better protect and assist the displaced people. The identity cards include a photo and signature and are being issued to each registered refugee over the age of 12.

Food distribution in the gorge usually takes place once every two months and lasts for several weeks. The current distribution could take somewhat longer because of the added step of issuing the refugee cards.

Most of the refugees fled Chechnya in 1999 and now live with host families in Pankisi. Nearly 80 percent of the Chechen refugee caseload in Georgia are women, children and elderly.

The conflict in Chechnya has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people, with some 150,000 currently displaced to the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia and another estimated 160,000 displaced within Chechnya itself.

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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

Ingushetia: Internally Displaced Chechens

When fighting broke out between government troops and rebel forces in Chechnya in 1999, over 200,000 people fled the republic, most of them to the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia. Today, tens of thousands of Chechens remain displaced in Ingushetia, unwilling to go home because of continuing security concerns.

As of early December 2003, some 62,000 displaced Chechens were living in temporary settlements or in private accommodation. Those living in settlements face constant threats of eviction, often by owners who wish to use their buildings again.

Another 7,900 displaced Chechens live in tents in three remaining camps – Satsita, Sputnik, and Bart.

The authorities have repeatedly called for the closure of tent camps and the return of the displaced people to Chechnya. Three camps have been closed in the past year – Iman camp at Aki Yurt, "Bella" or B camp, and "Alina" or A camp. Chechens from the latter two camps who did not wish to go home were allowed to move to Satsita camp or other existing temporary settlements in Ingushetia.

Ingushetia: Internally Displaced Chechens

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