Russian Federation: ICRC adapts to changing needs in northern Caucasus

10-04-2014 Operational Update

The ICRC is adapting its activities in the northern Caucasus to match the changing situation and provide effective support and assistance to those in need.

“You can't compare the current situation in the northern Caucasus to that of 20 years ago, when the ICRC started working in the region. However, people are still suffering the consequences of past conflicts and the ICRC remains committed to alleviating those consequences, adapting its activities to match the different needs in each republic,” said Pascal Cuttat, head of the ICRC's regional delegation for the Russian Federation, Belarus and Moldova.

According to public data, about 1,000 people suffered the effects of armed violence in the Northern Caucasus during 2013, which is a drop of almost 20% by comparison with 2012. The situation was most volatile in Dagestan.

We are currently scaling back our operations in the northern Caucasus, although some programmes will continue. In particular, we will continue to work with our main partner in the region, the Russian Red Cross (RRC), focusing on support for RRC branches.

The ICRC's 2014 budget for work in the northern Caucasus is approximately USD 8.5 million. Currently, we are operating out of sub-delegations in Grozny and Nalchik, plus offices in Khasavyurt and Nazran. The Nazran office will be closing in June.

Helping people support themselves

ICRC micro-economic projects have allowed people to launch small family businesses in farming, crafts, trades and services. In 2013, the ICRC launched 348 micro-economic projects in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. These will run as planned till the end of 2014, when the programme will be complete.

2014 will also see the end of economic support for vulnerable communities in remote villages of Chechnya affected by past conflicts, where the ICRC has been providing agricultural machinery, equipment and seed.

Providing remote villages with clean water

The ICRC has helped upgrade water and sanitation systems in areas where past conflicts and deteriorating infrastructure hamper access to water, particularly in remote villages in the south of Chechnya. When the ICRC project in the village of Gilyany is completed this year, 280 households will have a mains water supply. We will not be launching any new projects.

In 2013, the ICRC provided the authorities of Prigorodny District (North Ossetia) with the materials and documentation they would need in order to complete a water supply project in Voskhod settlement, which is hosting people who fled South Ossetia and Georgia.
Supporting the families of missing persons

Some 2,400 people are still registered with the ICRC as missing, including 700 members of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

We continue to raise awareness of the suffering endured by people who do not know what has happened to their relatives and to remind federal and local authorities of their obligation to provide answers. In addition, these families receive psychosocial support. In 2013, Russian Red Cross volunteers from the Chechen Branch regularly visited 149 families in Chechnya under the supervision of ICRC psychologists, operating in cooperation with the Russian Red Cross branch in Kabardino-Balkaria.

Helping families stay in touch

The ICRC pays for vulnerable families in the northern Caucasus to visit relatives detained in various parts of Russia in connection with violence and former conflicts. In 2013, 505 such visits took place, and 539 parcels were delivered to detainees on behalf of families unable to visit them.

Supporting medical services

The ICRC trains and supports the training of medical personnel who work on surgery and traumatology wards, and 77 doctors, paramedics and nurses benefited from this support in 2013. In addition, the ICRC maintains a contingency stock of drugs and consumables that health facilities can call on if they have to handle a massive influx of casualties. This year, we issued four medical kits to hospitals in the region.

Helping mine victims and preventing mine accidents

Mines continue to blight lives in Chechnya. Though mine clearance started in 2012, mines and unexploded ordnance are still preventing many people from working in their fields. Agriculture is a major source of income, particularly in rural areas, so the ICRC is supporting micro-economic projects that offer people ways of earning an income while reducing their exposure to mines.

Between 2008 and 2013, almost 340 families benefited from this programme. In 2014, the ICRC will offer up to 70 families an opportunity to start their own small businesses, after which the programme will close. The ICRC is cooperating closely with the Chechen Branch of the Russian Red Cross to collect data on the needs of mine victims.

Promoting compliance with the law

Spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law (IHL) and other legal instruments and standards remains an important component of the ICRC’s activities. The ICRC invites IHL and international law experts from the northern Caucasus to participate in international conferences, organizes events for university lecturers from the region and conducts IHL competitions for students and young people.

Working with the Russian Red Cross

The ICRC supports RRC branches in the fields of emergency preparedness, restoration of family links, and social and psychological support to vulnerable people. Elderly people living alone and relatives of missing persons receive psycho-social support under the RRC Home Visiting Nurses Programme. In 2013, over 1,170 people benefited from this assistance in five republics of the northern Caucasus.

The ICRC supports the RRC branches in several republics in the areas of first-aid training for the public and care for children affected by conflict or other violence. Children can visit playrooms in Chechnya and Ingushetia, while almost 300 children visited the RRC psychosocial centre in Beslan and its branch in Prigorodny district, North Ossetia.

For further information, please contact:
Victoria Zotikova, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 495 626 5426/+7 903 545 3534
David Pierre Marquet, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 92 48


ICRC engineers install a pipe as part of a project to bring mains water to the houses of the village. 

Gilyany, Chechnya.
ICRC engineers install a pipe as part of a project to bring mains water to the houses of the village.
/ ICRC / L. Satueva / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / v-p-ru-e-00703

An ICRC commemoration ceremony for missing persons, where families can share their feelings and emotions. 

An ICRC commemoration ceremony for missing persons, where families can share their feelings and emotions.
/ ICRC / L. Satueva / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Personnel from northern Caucasus hospitals take part in an ICRC emergency room trauma course. 

Personnel from northern Caucasus hospitals take part in an ICRC emergency room trauma course.
/ ICRC / A. Didarova / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / v-p-ru-e-00701

Winners of the  

Winners of the "Play by the Rules" football championship receive their prizes.
/ ICRC / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The ICRC hands over agricultural machinery. 

Betti Mohk, Chechnya.
The ICRC hands over agricultural machinery.
/ ICRC / L. Satueva / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / v-p-ru-e-00702