Russian Federation: ICRC to continue its operations in the country
On 28 January the ICRC publicly launched its 2004 action plan for the Russian Federation. The plan provides for the continuation of its assistance programmes in the northern Caucasus, which benefit nearly 140,000 people a month and include support for hospitals, water-supply networks and sewage systems in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Daghestan.
As before, the organization will monitor developments in Chechnya and the neighbouring republics, where the situation of the civilian population is a matter of ongoing concern. It will also pursue its protection activities, which include visiting people detained in connection with the events in Chechnya, facilitating the exchange of news between detainees and their families and collecting allegations of arrests and reports of persons gone missing so that it can urge the authorities to investigate these cases and provide answers. In addition, the ICRC will continue its mine-awareness activities in Chechnya and Daghestan in order to help people, children in particular, avoid the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance.
" This is the sixth largest ICRC operation in the world, " said Marco Altherr, head of the ICRC delegation in the Russian Federation, at a press conference held to present the plan. " The programme budget, amounting to some 25 million US dollars, reflects the scale of existing needs, especially in Chechnya and neighbouring republics. Although we are working in a volatile and complex environment, we have so far been able to maintain a dialogue with the authorities and pursue our activities, and I hope this will continue to be the case. "
The ICRC will go on spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law in schools and universities and among government authorities, representatives of civil society, and members of the armed and security forces, especially those deployed in the northern Caucasus. The organization will also step up its cooperation with national and international political authorities with a view to promoting the ratification of humanitarian law treaties and compliance with their rules at national level.