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Chechnya: confusion over Russian ultimatum

Briefing notes

Chechnya: confusion over Russian ultimatum

10 December 1999

UNHCR continues to be concerned about the situation of civilians remaining in Grozny. We are particularly worried about handicapped, old and frail persons in Grozny who are reportedly unable to move out and whose fate and condition is unknown. Confusion reigns over the Russian ultimatum issued to Grozny's civilians last Monday telling them to leave the city by December 11 (Saturday) or be destroyed. The Russian media today are quoting the Emergencies Minister, Mr. Sergei Shoigu, as saying civilians can also leave after the deadline.

The Russians have reportedly opened a corridor from Grozny to the Russian controlled settlement of Pervomayskoe, north-east of the Chechen capital, but few people have used the corridor. There are still reportedly 35,000 to 40,000 civilians in Grozny. A majority have been moved to outlying districts of the city.

People continue to cross from Chechnya to Ingushetia (930 on Thursday) but there is also a movement back to Russian-controlled parts of Chechnya (850 on Thursday). The Ingush authorities now say they host 240,000 people from Chechnya.

Today (Friday) another UNHCR convoy arrived in Ingushetia's capital, Nazran, from Stavropol delivering 225 MT of food. This brings the total tonnage of aid supplied to Ingushetia to over 2,700 metric tons.

UNHCR has received donor pledges for US$ 5.4 million to pay for our operations in Chechnya - a generous response to our US$ 8.5 million appeal launched just two weeks ago.