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Emergency action of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for the North Caucasus and the South of Russia (May 2001)

31-05-2001 Operational Update




A member of the local staff of the ICRC was wounded at a checkpoint of the Federal Forces in Staropromyslovky district, at the entry to the city of Grozny, on Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, at around 4.30 p.m., as his vehicle, clearly marked with the red cross emblem, was stopped for a routine check. Under circumstances, which so far remain unclear, several shots were fired and Mr.Arbi Israilov, an ICRC employee, riding in this vehicle, was wounded in the abdomen. He was taken to hospital No.9 in Grozny where he was successfully operated on the same evening. His actual health status is considered as serious. The ICRC mission in Nalchik, as well as the ICRC regional delegation in Moscow, immediately contacted the Russian authorities and requested that an investigation should be carried out.

At the moment, the ICRC, deeply concerned by the difficulties encountered in the course of its humanitarian work in Chechnya, is acting to clarify the circumstances of this incident with the Russian authorities. It has also decided to suspend all its operations and all its movements in Chechnya pending reception of clearer security information details.

The ICRC has worked in the North Caucasus and, in particular, in Chechnya, since 1993. After the murder of six ICRC delegates in Novye Atagi on 17 December, 1996, and the kidnapping of one ICRC delegate in 1999, the ICRC activities inside Chechnya has been carried out mostly by local staff supported by expatriate delegates who come to Chechnya on one-time missions. The main humanitarian activities of the ICRC and its partner, the Russian Red Cross, in favour of victims in Chechnya are as follows: medical assistance programmes, drinking water distribution to more than 50,000 beneficiaries, food distribution to approximately 30,000 vulnerable people, visits of detainees.

In its annual appeal for 2001, the ICRC requests nearly

34 mln dollars to finance its activities in the Russian Federation. Of this, about 27 mln dollars are planned to be used for relief operations in the North Caucasus.








 Food assistance (dry food, hot meals and bread)  


The ICRC handed out a ration of vegetable oil, sugar, tea and soap to every person benefiting from the bread programme which is run by the Chechen branch of the RRC. Today 26,500 people are covered by this programme in Grozny, Shali, Gudermes, Argun, Urus Martan, Achkhoi Martan and Kurtchaloy.    


The ICRC also provided basic foodstuffs   to social and paramedical institutions and distributed food parcels and wheat flour to beneficiaries in IDP centres, delivering aid to 10 such places.


Some food parcels were provided to Grozny Vodocanal staff to support their efforts to restore sewerage and water supply systems of the city.   Over 900 school teachers in Grozny also   received assistance in a form of food parcels.


 Shelter and water supply  


In May the ICRC continued to distribute hygienic kits, soap, plastic sheeting and stoves in hospitals, social and paramedical institutions and IDP centres, delivering aid to 11 such places. Vodocanal staff in charge of water supply also received hygienic kits the same as school teachers in Grozny.

Since December 1, 2000 the ICRC, which rehabilitated pumping station No 1 in Grozny, has started distribution of chlorinated water to the population of the city from two water tanks (75 m3 each) with a present daily output of over 820 m3 which covers the needs of more than 54,000 people. In May 25,440 m3 of water were provided.


 Medical assistance  

The ICRC assisted 9 hospitals in Chechnya in May. Medical material and medicines for the treatment of 300 surgical cases have been provided to them.

The ICRC also supports the visiting nurses programme of the Chechen branch of the RRC. 720 bedridden elderly are assisted on a regular basis by 57 nurses and provided with fresh food and medicines on a monthly basis and with hygienic kits every 6 months.

Furthermore, the ICRC supports three mobile medical teams and a medical post run by the local Red Cross. The mobile units are especially appreciated in the countryside where they provide the population with basic medical help.


 (May 2001)  

1,589 food parcels

318,000 loaves of bread

2,100kg wheat flour

26,742 l oil

26,642 kg sugar

26,735 tea (boxes)

1,380 kg potatoes

450 kg onions


 (May 2001)  

1,589 hygienic kits

240 m2 plastic sheeting

5 kitchen sets

2 stoves

53,336 soap (pieces)


 (May 2001)  

4,247 consultations

1,936 of them for children

88 national staff

12 vehicles


120 staff

11 vehicles


 Food assistance (dry food, hot meals and bread)  


The bulk of the ICRC assistance in the North Caucasus is distributed in Ingushetia. The Republic currently hosts about 149,000 officially registered IDPs from Chechnya and this is a heavy burden to bear for the local population.

Some 25,000 to 28,000 people are accommodated in IDP camps. But the majority live in temporary settlements and in host families, straining their economic conditions.

The ICRC supports IDPs on a regular basis with food (family parcels). The ICRC covers almost all IDPs in Ingushetia on a two month cycle basis through more than 50 points of distribution. 


In addition to the aforementioned distributions, the ICRC supports two programmes of the RRC local branch, which distributes on an average 3 loaves of bread to over 25,500 beneficiaries in IDP camps and 6 hot meals to some 3,000 particularly vulnerable beneficiaries from 8 soup kitchens on a weekly basis.


 Water and sanitation  


The ICRC has spared no effor t to make drinking water available wherever there are major concentrations of IDPs in Ingushetia. Last summer, when the ICRC made it a priority to improve the hygienic situation in IDP camps, it started to built shower installations there which were insulated for the winter period. Fourteen of them, containing 143 cabins, function now in the camps.


 Medical assistance  


Since the beginning of 2000, the ICRC has been providing assistance to all five hospitals in Ingushetia, enabling them to treat 2,150 surgical cases. It is closely monitoring the situation in the hospitals and will deliver medical assistance whenever it is needed.

The ICRC also supports two mobile medical teams and one medical post set up by the RRC in order to provide IDPs with basic health care.

The RRC visiting nurses programme is providing bedridden elders (130 people) with basic care. Beneficiaries receive food parcels, wheat flour and medicines on a monthly basis and hygienic kits every 6 months.

 Mine awareness  


The number of landmine and unexploded ordnance victims among the civilian population in Chechnya is of particular concern for the ICRC. A " mine awareness programme " has been initiated for IDPs in Ingushetia. Its aim is to inform IDPs on the dangers these weapons represent and to teach them some basic rules of behaviour in order to limit the risk of accidents when they return home. In May the ICRC mine awareness team in Ingushetia underwent additional training and will continue its activities in June.

 (May 2001)  

64,346 food parcels

388,350 loaves of bread

81,000 hot meals (portions)

 (May 2001)  

155,242 candles

 (May 2001)  

Overall: 8,473.5 m3

Daily: 273 m3

Showers: 14 (143 cabins)

Bladders: 17

Pits: 6

Water trucks: 16





 (May 2001)  

5,088 consultations

1,844 of them for children




 Food assistance (dry food, hot meals and bread)  

Following the re-registration of beneficiaries of the ICRC assistance in Daghestan in the autumn of 2000 some 25,000 persons were identified to receive regular food assistance. In May distributions were carried out in the Makhachkala, Kaspiisk, Kumtorkalinsky regions, where assistance was provided to almost 2,400 IDPs.

As in Ingushetia, the RRC local branch runs 3 bakeries, covering the needs in bread of over 3,800 IDPs daily, and two soup kitchens providing about 850 especially vulnerable IDPs with hot meals on a daily basis.


 Non-food assistance  


Furthermore, the ICRC provides IDPs with hygienic kits, blankets and jerrycans, helping them to improve their living conditions.

 Medical assistance  


The RRC also runs 2 mobile medical units in Daghestan, providing medical services to the IDPs since December 1999. Over 22,100 patients, including more than 7,500 children, have already benefited from this assistance. Since January 2000 the ICRC has also provided local medical facilities with necessary material allowing them to treat 795 surgical cases.

The local branch of the RRC is also running the home visiting nurses programme for about 220 beneficiaries, mainly bedridden elderly.   They receive food parcels, wheat flour and medicines on a monthly basis and hygienic kits every 6 months.


 (May 2001)  

800 food parcels

19.9t wheat flour

103,950 loaves of bread

22,950 hot meals (portions)


 (May 2001)  

1,017hygienic kits

1,268 blankets

634 jerrycans


 (March 2001)  

2,116 consultations

838 of them for children





 Food assistance (dry food, hot meals and bread)  

In the southern regions of Russia (Astrakhan, Volgograd, Krasnodar, Rostov, Saratov, Stavropol, Kalmykia, Adygea, (Karachayevo-Cherkessia) the RRC, with the ICRC support, is distributing food parcels and wheat flour to over 21,000 Chechen IDPs on a monthly basis.

As in the other republics, the RRC operates a soup kitchen and a bakery in North Ossetia, providing bread to 1,000 beneficiaries and hot meals to 300 beneficiaries on a daily basis.


 Non-food assistance  

In May hygienic kits have been distributed to over 1,700 IDPs in the South of Russia. More than 1,500 IDPs received clothes and underwear.


 Medical assistance  

Since January 2000, military hospitals and surgical departments of some other hospitals in Nalchik, Mozdok, Vladikavkaz, Kislovodsk and Pyatigorsk have been assisted by the ICRC with emergency and surgical material to treat 1,836 surgical cases.

In these regions, the RRC, supported by the ICRC, also runs the home visiting nurses programme for the elderly (1,269 beneficiaries). They receive food parcels and medicines on a monthly basis and hygienic kits every 6 months.


 Psychological and legal counselling  


In the South of Russia the RRC, supported by the ICRC and the International Federation, provides IDPs from Chechnya with psycho-social counselling and legal advice.

 Mine awareness  


The ICRC mine-awareness team seized the opportunity to cover by the programme the Chechen children who came to stay in sanatoria in several republics and regions of the North Caucasus as a break from the dire living conditions in Chechnya. In Ma y 4 presentations were given to 97 children staying in Kabardino-Balkaria. Tests were offered to over 200 children in 5 sanatoria to determine their knowledge of mines and to adapt the programme accordingly. Eleven performances of the puppet show " The danger of landmines - the new adventures of Cheerdig " were made at sanatoria over the North Caucasus for about 2,800 children. Over 2,900 copies of a comic book based on the same story were distributed. Besides, the ICRC provided 2,775 children with school kits and over 600 children with footwear.


All over the North Caucasus and the South of Russia (Chechnya, Ingushetia, Daghestan, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Adygea, Kalmykia, Stavropol and Krasnodar regions) the RRC local branches, with the ICRC support, assist 3,820 vulnerable local residents with food parcels on a monthly basis and with hygienic kits - once in 6 months.


 (May 2001)  

9,184 food parcels

24,000 loaves of bread

7,163 hot meals (portions)

78.9 t wheat flour


 (May 2001)  

1,668 hygienic kits

90 blankets

19 kitchen sets

2,775 school kits

614 pairs of shoes


 (May 2001)  

1,575 medical

663 psychological

956 legal





Since 17 May 2000, the ICRC delegates have regularly visited 37 detention places inside and outside Chechnya where persons detained in connection with the Chechen situation are held.

The detainees visited by the ICRC also have the opportunity to maintain contacts with their relatives through Red Cross messages.

These visits are being conducted after President Vladimir Putin gave assurances to the ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger, during talks held in Moscow in March 2000, that the ICRC delegates would be granted access to all persons detained in connection with the Chechen crisis, wherever they are being held.



 (May 2001)  

In Chechnya: 2

Outside Chechnya: 3




(Since May 2000)

In Chechnya: 29

Outside Chechnya: 64


Number of places visited: 37



While the main objective of dissemination of IHL to the armed forces in the Russian Federation is to integrate the essential notions of international humanitarian law into the training programme of officers and soldiers, the ICRC makes a special effort to directly address troops engaged in the North Caucasus whenever it is possible in order to inform them about the basics of the law of war and the ICRC.

A travelling exhibition, which presents the IHL, the Red Cross Movement, the ICRC and its objectives, is being shown in the regions of the North Caucasus and the South of Russia. It has already been on display in Tuapse (Krasnodar region), Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkaria), Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia), Armavir (Krasnodar region) and Maikop (Adygea).


 (May 2001)  


  • Ministry of Interior: 2 presentations for 120 cadets of the Krasnodar Legal Institute

  • Ministry of Defence: 2 presentations - 139 soldiers and officers of peacekeeping forces; 1 presentation - 110 officers in charge of educational work; 1 presentaion - 25 lecturers of the Vladikavkaz Suvorov Military School

  • Border Guards: 1 presentation - 90 soldiers and sergeants




12 expatriates permanently based in Nalchik and 292 national employees not including those in Chechnya.


Regular staff, excluding Chechnya - 129 (plus 25 HQ staff in Moscow), rescue service included. RRC can mobilise hundreds of voluntary workers to support its operation in the region.



Delegates and local staff in Moscow offer support to the Russian Red Cross outside the North Caucasus


 What's in a food parcel?  

720 g of butter

800 g of tomato puree

1 kg of cheese

1 kg of sugar

3 kg of spaghetti

2 kg of rice

1.3 kg of canned chicken

500 g tea

200 g of yeast

 What's in a hygienic kit?  

2,5 kg washing powder

12 rolls of toilette paper

500 gr of soap

5 tubes of toothpaste

5 toothbrushes

5 disposable razors

80 sanitary towels

1 bath towel

 What's in a kitchen set?  

1 cooking pot (7 l)

1 frying pan

5 bowls

5 plates

5 cups

5 knives

5 forks

5 table spoons

 What's in a school kit?  

2 copybooks

2 pens

1 pad drawing paper

1 box colour pencils

1 box water colours

 What kind of surgical assistance?  

Dressing materials (bandages, cotton, gauze)


Medecines for narcosis



Accessories for infusions (IV sets, tubes, catheters etc.)


X-ray material