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North Caucasus: 2-way movement continues

Briefing notes

North Caucasus: 2-way movement continues

1 February 2000

According to UNHCR monitors, some 2,100 internally displaced people crossed from Chechnya into Ingushetia yesterday at the Kavkaz crossing point, while 720 IDPs moved from Ingushetia back to Chechnya.

The 2,100 new arrivals included about 300 people from Grozny and the Shatoi district, where fighting is also reported. The new arrivals said people - particularly the elderly and infirm who cannot leave or who refuse to do so - continue to spend nearly all of their time in dark cellars, with little or no food or medicine. Various estimates say there could be up to 20,000 civilians remaining in Grozny.

Our monitors noted that the average age of those who arrived in Ingushetia from Grozny and Shatoi appeared to be in the 30s and 40s, which is generally younger that what we've seen in the past when mostly elderly and children came out. When asked about their plans, the new arrivals reported that they had come to buy food and medicine, and would then return with those supplies to Chechnya.

Chechen IDPs also told our monitors that ethnic Russians who remain in Chechnya, particularly in Grozny, are now living in groups of several people in order to share their meagre resources. They too are in need assistance, the IDPs reported.

EMERCOM announced today that some 100,000 Chechen IDPs have returned to Chechnya, although no particular districts were mentioned.

UNHCR's 27th convoy arrived in Nazran, Ingushetia, this morning after an overnight journey from our base in Stavropol, southern Russia.

Nineteen UNHCR trucks delivered 100 tents, 1,105 beds, 5,000 tons of barley and 5,000 tons of flour. In addition to UNHCR vehicles, the convoy included one truck from the Danish Refugee Council (shoes), two from UNICEF (hygienic kits and school supplies), five from Action Against Hunger (food) and one by EMERCOM (food).