Chechnya/Ingushetia: one year on, over 150,000 remain displaced
Just over one year after Russian federal troops drove separatist rebels from Chechnya's capital, Grozny, over 150,000 Chechens remain displaced in neighbouring Ingushetia and more people continue to flee the war-torn republic. In February alone, 2,500 people fled from Chechnya to Ingushetia, while only 200 trickled back during the same time. Those fleeing Chechnya paint a bleak picture of the devastated capital Grozny and other areas. Even though the population of the city is increasing slightly, those who visited Grozny say the inhabitants' life is marked by military checkpoints, nighttime gunfire and a daily struggle for sufficient food and water.
Most of those who fled to Ingushetia continue to stay with host families, but some of them are coming under pressure to leave. Last year, more than 700 people were evicted by their hosts, while ten times as many faced constant pressure to leave. UNHCR has been trying to remedy the situation by paying compensation to families who host the displaced. Abut 50,000 people are accommodated in tented camps, shipping containers, abandoned buildings and railway cars.
Since the Russian offensive in Chechnya began in the fall of 1999, UNHCR has sent a total of 137 aid convoys to the Northern Caucasus. 95 have gone to Ingushetia, 25 to Chechnya and the rest to neighbouring areas affected by the crisis. The convoy operation cost nearly US$ 10,000,000.