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Russian Federation / Chechnya: tens of thousands of civilians still in Grozny

22-08-1996 News Release 96/33

On the morning of 22 August, with some 50,000 civilians reportedly left in Grozny, the major offensive expected following the expiry of the ultimatum had not begun. Extremely concerned about the situation, the ICRC had called on the parties the previous day to respect the civilian population, which - under the terms of international humanitarian law - must be protected from the dangers arising from military operations.

Several ICRC teams are coming to the aid of tens of thousands of displaced people who have fled the city in recent days. On 14 August an ICRC aid station was set up in Pobedinskoye, 15 km north of Grozny, to distribute food, water and blankets. Another post was opened in Znamenskoye on 20 August to assist people making their way towards northern Chechnya and Ingushetia, where some 4,000 displaced have received help from the ICRC.

In the past week, ICRC teams have provided medical and surgical supplies to medical facilities in Grozny and other places in Chechnya currently treating some 1,500 war wounded. In view of the number of wounded and the urgent need for assistance, a surgical team has been sent to the spot and a field hospital arrived on 22 August in Mineralnye Vody, in the south of the Russian Federation.

Since the resumption of hostilities on 6 August, over 1,000 people have been evacuated from the ICRC's premises in Grozny to the northern outskirts of the city, and dozens of wounded have been treated in a makeshift hospital set up in a wing of the ICRC building. In recent days four ICRC convoys have reached Grozny with about a hundred tonne s of relief supplies for the city's inhabitants, who are in cruel need of food and water.