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Northern Caucasus: floods cause serious damage

Briefing notes

Northern Caucasus: floods cause serious damage

25 June 2002

Severe floods across southern Russia and the North Caucasus over the weekend have caused numerous casualties and serious damage, including to some settlements of displaced people from Chechnya in Ingushetia. The most critical situation is in parts of Stavropol Krai, Krasnodar and Karachay-Cherkessia, but there is damage throughout the region.

In Ingushetia, UNHCR is assessing the full extent of the damage in camps and settlements for displaced persons. The main tent camps appear to be in relatively good shape, with only a few individual tents seriously damaged.

But a spontaneous settlement in Karabulak was completely flooded with water and mud, and many of the 400 displaced people living there have lost belongings and food. UNHCR yesterday delivered mattresses, kitchen sets, jerry cans and blankets to each family from that settlement, and worked on cleaning up the mud left behind by the flooding. We have also provided relief items to individual displaced families in a few other locations and to several families in camps who lost their food supplies.

Houses in several villages in Ingushetia are also badly damaged, and it is likely that a number of displaced people - the majority of whom live with host families - have been affected. Generally, people are managing to find short-term alternative shelter with neighbours and relatives.

On Saturday, UNHCR also provided assistance to the local villagers in Olygety village, located high in the mountains of Ingushetia. Of the 30 families in the village, 26 lost their homes. We provided them with tents, mattresses, blankets, stoves, jerry cans and plastic sheeting.

UNHCR staff have already met with the authorities in Ingushetia to discuss the situation, and we are coordinating with other humanitarian agencies on the ground. A meeting with all UN and other humanitarian agencies is scheduled for later today to work out a joint assistance plan.

In all, Ingushetia hosts some 150,000 displaced people from Chechnya - 64 percent of whom live with host families, 21 percent live in spontaneous settlements (often converted farm or industrial buildings) and 15 percent in tent camps. Another 160,000 people are estimated to be displaced within Chechnya itself.