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North Caucasus: 1,000 fleeing per week

Briefing notes

North Caucasus: 1,000 fleeing per week

28 March 2000

Civilians continue to flee villages in southern Chechnya amid reports of widespread destruction of property and a continuing military push by Russian troops. Newcomers report that virtually all homes in the Komsomolskoe village in Southern Chechnya have been destroyed. The number of people fleeing Chechnya has remained steady at about 1,000 people a week. The Russian government's emergency response agency EMERCOM has asked UNHCR to provide 150 tents, as well as cots, mattresses and bed linen to accommodate those newly arriving. There has also been some return movement back into Urus Martan and Gudermes. But despite the Russians providing free transportation for those going back, few return. Most of the displaced cite fear of detention and general devastation in Chechnya as the reasons for not going back. One 48-year old widow told UNHCR she was afraid that her two sons would be arrested by the Russians if they went back. A man who briefly returned to Grozny said living in empty and devastated Grozny and hearing frequent bursts of machine gunfire was a terrifying experience.

To date, UNHCR has sent 51 relief convoys to the northern Caucasus at a total cost of US$4.5 million.