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High Commissioner in Russia

Briefing notes

High Commissioner in Russia

19 November 1999

The High Commissioner is back in Moscow where she is supposed to meet again this afternoon with Russia's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov. She visited Ingushetia Thursday morning where she saw a train settlement housing people displaced from Chechnya - many of them traumatized and very vocal about their suffering. She found very difficult conditions on the ground - problems with bad drainage, sanitation and many complaints about the lack of basic necessities. The displaced receive only one hot meal a day. The people told the High Commissioner they were very frustrated and wanted the fighting to stop so they can go home. At the border, the huge backups of the last few weeks seem to have abated. At the end of the day Thursday, there were only about 10 cars waiting. A lot of shelling could be heard just across the border.

Later on Thursday, Mrs. Ogata was taken by helicopter inside northern Chechnya which is under control of Russian forces. The Russian authorities showed her possible accommodation centres that could be used for returnees.

In meeting with Russian officials the High Commissioner's party detected more concern about the humanitarian situation and more willingness to accept international aid.