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UNHCR resumes operation outside Chechnya

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UNHCR resumes operation outside Chechnya

19 December 1996

Having assessed the situation of its operations in the Chechnya region after the killing of international Red Cross staff early Tuesday, UNHCR decided Wednesday to keep on hold its programmes for the delivery of assistance inside Chechnya. However, UNHCR will continue its operations in the neighbouring republics of Daghestan, Ingushetia and North Ossetia assisting persons displaced by the Chechnya conflict. UNHCR has asked its field staff to upgrade security measures and instructed personnel to stay clear from areas bordering the territory of Chechnya.

UNHCR condemns this cold-blooded killing in strongest possible terms. "Killing ICRC workers is like killing UNHCR staff! These are people who came from afar to save others in a spirit of selfless devotion. This kind of incident simply cannot be allowed to happen again," Assistant High Commissioner Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello said.

"It highlights the need for the international community to help international aid agencies find ways of protecting their staff, who are increasingly operating in environments of active conflict," he said.

In a show of solidarity, UNHCR staff will join other Geneva-based humanitarian workers in a silent demonstration in front of the Palais des Nations, scheduled at noon on 20 December 1996.