North Caucasus: Safe haven assured for Chechens in Ingushetia
In meetings with UNHCR late last week, Ingushetia authorities gave assurances that Ingushetia will remain a safe haven for people displaced from neighbouring Chechnya. The assurances came during meetings with UNHCR Deputy Director for Europe Robert Robinson, who was visiting the area as part of a mission to the Russian Federation. Ingush President M. Zyazikov and other authorities all reconfirmed the government's policy that the principle of voluntary return would be respected with regard to displaced persons from Chechnya.
Mr. Robinson also met in Nazran with General I. Yunash, First Deputy Head of the Federal Migration Service, who is coordinating the government's assistance in Ingushetia for those displaced who have chosen not to return to Chechnya at this time. In addition to reconfirming the policy of voluntariness, Gen. Yunash outlined the government's plans to improve conditions for those displaced who will spend another winter in Ingushetia. In announcing the government's decision to close the tented camp at Aki Yurt, Gen. Yunash assured Mr. Robinson that the conditions at their new location in Ingushetia - including health and education facilities as well as shelter, water, sanitation, gas and electricity - will be better than the current ones. Aki Yurt currently houses some 400 displaced families. The United Nations will be working closely with all those concerned, including the displaced themselves, to monitor the situation. International agencies are currently working with the government to determine how many of the approximately 100,000 displaced people in Ingushetia will require assistance through the winter.