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Red Cross urgently needs funds for emergency aid to northern Caucasus

01-11-1999 News Release 99/63

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on behalf of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, today launched an appeal for more than 18 million Swiss francs to step up relief operations for thousands of people affected by the renewed fighting in Chechnya.

The appeal follows recent discussions in Moscow and Geneva during which the Russian Red Cross Society, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the ICRC together drew up a humanitarian plan of action. The plan provides for the distribution of aid to some 150,000 victims of the crisis in the northern Caucasus during the coming winter months (November 1999 through March 2000).

The ICRC, whose traditional task is to protect and assist victims of conflict, has been entrusted with the general coordination of Red Cross relief efforts in accordance with the Seville Agreement between the components of the Movement. The Russian Red Cross will assume an operational lead role in Russia outside the northern Caucasus region. It will provide social welfare and medical services in its reception centres in the framework of its Population Movement Programme . The International Federation will continue to play its key role in providing support for the activities of the Russian Red Cross.

The three components of the Movement will work in close cooperation to implement the plan of action. In the northern Caucasus, activities will be conducted with the Russian Red Cross and through ICRC staff stationed throughout the region. A team of five ICRC delegates will coordinate operations from the ICRC's logistics cen tre in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria, and from the ICRC delegation in Moscow.

 The plan of action lists the following priorities.  

 Assistance  

In Chechnya, the ICRC and the local branch of the Russian Red Cross plan to provide food parcels and bulk food together with hygiene kits, kitchen sets, blankets and plastic sheeting for distribution to about 30,000 internally displaced people   within the republic.

    

Ongoing programmes will be continued. These include the distribution of bread to some 12,000 vulnerable people in Grozny, maintenance of Pumping Station No. 1, which is now the sole source of clean water for the city, and the provision of emergency medical supplies to medical facilities that are accessible on Chechen territory.

In the neighbouring republics of Daghestan and Ingushetia, food aid and hygiene kits will be distributed on a monthly basis to 100,000 displaced Chechens. They will also receive blankets, kitchen sets, plastic sheeting and other essential items.

Water and sanitation equipment will be installed by the ICRC, especially where the concentration of displaced people is high.

The Russian Red Cross will distribute winter clothes to 50,000 beneficiaries.

The local branch of the Russian Red Cross in Ingushetia will increase its current bread production for the most vulnerable among the displaced people to 20,000 loaves per day, and will also provide 3,000 hot meals daily.

The local branches of the Russian Red Cross in Ingushetia and in Daghestan will set up two clinics and two ad ditional mobile units where the displaced will be able to receive medical treatment.

In the Russian Federation outside the northern Caucasus region, the Russian Red Cross, with the support of the International Federation, will provide 20,000 people directly affected by the current crisis with food parcels, hygiene kits, clothes, shoes, blankets and bedding. This humanitarian aid will be distributed in Russian Red Cross reception centres where psycho-social counselling, legal advice and health services will also be available. The ICRC, together with the Russian Red Cross, will continue to support social welfare programmes for about 22,300 vulnerable people in the northern Caucasus, including Chechnya.

 ICRC protection activities  

In accordance with its traditional mandate in the area of protection, the ICRC will pursue its efforts to gain access to persons detained in connection with this latest crisis.

Finally, in close cooperation with the Russian Red Cross, it will help restore contact between relatives who have been separated by the events.