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Dagestan: situation deteriorates drastically

Briefing notes

Dagestan: situation deteriorates drastically

7 September 1999

The situation in Dagestan deteriorated drastically over the weekend, with hundreds of rebels crossing the border between Dagestan and Chechnya and attacking several villages in the Novolaksk area.

Around 6,000 women and children from Novolaksk fled the fighting Sunday to a UNHCR-assisted reception centre in Makhachkala. Rebels reportedly allowed women and children to leave the besieged villages while men were forced to dig defensive trenches. IDPs demonstrated Monday in Makhachkala, calling on authorities to clear their villages of rebels and arm the male population.

The Novolaksk district is 120 km north-west of Buinaksk, where most of the fighting between rebels and Russian forces has taken place so far. According to the Dagestani Migration Service, the number of people displaced by the conflict yesterday reached 22,000. UNHCR cannot independently verify this information since we do not have any staff present in Dagestan.