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Russian Federation / Northern Caucasus: ICRC surveys under way in Chechnya

06-04-2000 News Release 00/12

On 29 March, a team of four ICRC local staff based in Nazran, Ingushetia carried out a one-day assessment of the situation in the town of Achkhoy-Martan and surrounding area west of Grozny and not far from the Ingush border. Contact with the local administration and the director of the main referral hospital provided a clearer picture of the needs of the civilian population.

While the area appears to be calm, most of its inhabitants are facing difficult living conditions owing to shortages of food, medicines and drinking water. Recent statistics indicate that of a local population of some 120,000, over a third are displaced people without any means of subsistence. In one village a number of typhoid cases have been diagnosed.

During this short mission, basic ICRC medical assistance was provided to the 250-bed Achkhoy-Martan hospital, which was damaged during the hostilities, though not hit directly.  The hospital's staff is doing its best to continue working despite lack of water and electricity, which among other things makes it difficult to sterilize instruments and provide adequate, clean bedding. The ICRC will shortly be organizing further distributions of medicines and other medical supplies needed by the hospital.

In the light of last week's clear commitment by the Russian authorities at the highest level to facilitate development of Red Cross activities in Chechnya, the ICRC is working in conjunction with the local branch of the Russian Red Cross to expand its emergency assistance programmes in the republic. Another ICRC survey is currently under way in Gudermes, east of Grozny, with the aim of restoring contact with the local authorities and assess ing the need for humanitarian aid.