North Caucasus: UN assistance inside Chechnya?
UNHCR aid convoys could begin delivering U.N. humanitarian assistance inside Chechnya as early as next week, security conditions permitting. We're looking at this first convoy - probably around 10 trucks to the Grozny area - as a pilot project to provide aid to the civilian population. We will want to make sure security is in place and that an effective distribution and monitoring system can be established. The convoy of local drivers and local UNHCR staff will originate from our base of operations in Stavropol, southern Russia. We've already sent 32 convoys and more than 5,000 tons of humanitarian aid to internally displaced people in neighbouring Ingushetia since last autumn. The 33rd convoy to Ingushetia is scheduled to depart Stavropol tonight. I have no statistics on IDP numbers crossing between Ingushetia and Chechnya since Tuesday because the border was closed the last two days, reportedly for security reasons linked to the anniversary of Stalin's deportation of Chechens during World War II.