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Russian Federation/Northern Caucasus: Aftermath of conflict

13-11-1997 News Release 97/45

The situation in the northern Caucasus remains a source of humanitarian concern, and security conditions still leave a great deal to be desired. More than a year after the end of hostilities in Chechnya, a section of the population -- largely destitute elderly people, orphans and the disabled -- is poverty-stricken and in need of assistance.

For the inhabitants of the capital Grozny, another hard winter is looming. Reconstruction work is progressing slowly and the supply networks for water, electricity and heating, which were destroyed during the conflict, are not yet fully operational again. The first to suffer from this situation are the elderly, often of Russian origin. To assist them the ICRC has just launched a new programme that will enable 10,000 of them to obtain bread throughout the winter.

Since six of its expatriate staff members were murdered in Novye Atagi in December 1996, the ICRC has been maintaining some of its activities in Chechnya and the neighbouring republics of Ingushetia and Daghestan from Nalchik, in Kabardino-Balkaria, where it has a team of twelve delegates. So far this year, it has provided food to over 30,000 persons in Chechnya, while nearly 68,000 children have received school supplies. This aid is distributed by local ICRC employees and by branches of the Russian Red Cross, whose social welfare programmes are funded by the ICRC. In Ingushetia and Daghestan, as in Chechnya itself, the security situation prevents the ICRC from deploying expatriate staff there.

Meanwhile, the ICRC has broadened the scope of its activities in the northern Caucasus. Working out of Nalchik, it is supporting the programmes of local Red Cross branches to a ssist particularly vulnerable people in the four republics of Adigea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaievo-Cherkessia and North Ossetia, and also in the territories of Krasnodar and Stavropol in the south of the Russian Federation. For example, 30,000 people (displaced and particularly vulnerable) benefited from food distributions in these two territories in August and September 1997. The Red Cross branches in the seven republics reach a monthly total of 1,200 people with their home-care programmes, while also providing 1,200 particularly vulnerable people with food and other essential items.