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Chechnya: slow crossings, high casualties

Briefing notes

Chechnya: slow crossings, high casualties

2 November 1999

UNHCR continues to be concerned about the dramatic situation at the main border crossing between Chechnya and Ingushetia where those fleeing Chechnya are allowed to cross at an alarmingly slow pace. We are also alarmed by continued civilian casualties of Russia's military actions, including the reported rocket attack on a convoy of people fleeing Chechnya last Friday.

The border between Chechnya and Ingushetia opened at 09:00 local time (11:00 CET) this morning but only a small trickle of people were allowed through during the first hour. On Monday a mere 164 people were allowed out of Chechnya and 400 back into Chechnya. Before the Russian clampdown on the border the rate of processing was 5,000 to 7,000 a day. The latest reports speak of some 5,000 people massed on the Ingush side if the border either waiting for their relatives to arrive or trying to get back into Chechnya to collect the relatives they had left behind. At least 10,000 are stuck on the Chechen side of the border.

This morning, the fifth UNHCR convoy with 136 metric tons of supplies reached Ingushetia's capital Nazran after an overnight journey from Stavropol.