A second war in the last five years broke out in Chechnya in August/September 1999, forcing several hundred thousand people to flee for their lives into neighbouring regions. The majority of people
sought refuge in the tiny republic of Ingushetia on Chechnya's eastern border. 200,000 IDPs from Chechnya spent last winter in Ingushetia, and at least 160,000 IDPs are expected to do so again
this year. The war between the Russian federal forces and Chechen fighters continues as partisan fighting and clashes erupt regularly, particularly in the areas towards the south of Chechnya at the foothills to
the mountains. International human rights organizations predict that over 10,000 civilians have been killed during the last war; the Chechens claim the number of casualties to be between 30 and 40 thousand.
The Chechen economy was shattered as a result of the first war, and its capital city, Grozny lies in ruins. Some of the dwellings in outlying areas of the city have
been returned to and areas partly re-populated. Few people are able to survive in the centre of the city, where there is no gas, electricity supplies, and clean water is hard to find.
Grozny used to be home to nearly 300,000 people. Now
only 30-40,000 people reside there. Chechnya's main economic activity before the wars was agriculture, oil refining and small-trading. The small-trading continues to some extent, but the republic's agriculture and oil
refining have ground to a halt, as has any production which was formerly being conducted. Life in the villages in more manageable, though gas and electricity supplies
are erratic and many dwellings there were also destroyed or damaged.
The human rights situation in Chechnya is bad. Men between the ages of 15 and
65 are regularly detained by Russian forces stationed around the republic, taken in for questioning and often beaten. Many of these men die as a result of such
injuries. Some are sent to filtration camps where they are held and regularly tortured and beaten over a longer period of time.
Following the last war in Chechnya, elections were held (January 1997) and Aslan
Maskhadov was overwhelmingly voted in as president. Maskhadov was head of the Chechen forces in the first war against Russia. He helped to broker a peace deal
together with former Russian security council chief Alexander Lebed. Maskhadov was unable to control the growing wave of crime and kidnappings in the republic,
and militant Islamic groups began to affect the course of events to an extent unacceptable to the Russian leadership, as well as many Chechens.
In the summer of 2000, Islamic militants from Chechnya (though not all Chechens), invaded two regions of the
neighbouring republic of Dagestan. There are reliable sources which suggest that forces in Moscow encouraged and financed this invasion. It was then used by then as justification before Russian and world opinion
to start a new war in Chechnya, 'targeting terrorist bases'. The situation is in political deadlock, as the Russian authorities refuse to hold negotiate with the Chechens leading
the resistance, and the Chechen fighters refuse to lay down their arms. As during the first war, the civilian population is bearing the brunt of the violence. UN
agencies are launching an appeal for the whole of 2001, instead of the previous 4-6 months appeals. This reinforces the view that the conflict will most likely continue
for a long time, and the humanitarian situation is unlikely to improve.
Bombardment and ground attacks on villages and other targets in the South of Chechnya are continuing. It is not known exactly how many civilians have been
killed during the war, but estimates from the Chechen side are around 30,000 people. Most losses were incurred in Grozny, where hundreds of corpses are still trapped beneath the rubble of buildings
The humanitarian situation in Chechnya is worse than that in Ingushetia and other surrounding areas. The UN agencies are not able to work inside Chechnya, though
conduct some activities through local partners (NGOs and the Russian emergency authorities). Around 6-8 NGOs are currently working inside Chechnya. The number
in Ingsuhetia is around 25-30. Only one NGO other than CPCD is conducting
psycho-social rehabilitation work in Chechnya. The population has suffered a significantly high degree of trauma and stress due to the intensity of the military
activities, the extent of destruction and the fact that the conflict has lasted such a long time. There are no protection guarantees for people living inside Chechnya,
and in the refugee camps in Ingushetia there is nothing for people to do, conditions are cramped, nerves are frayed.
Emercom, the Russian Emergencies Ministry, is working both in Ingushetia and
Chechnya, but has funding difficulties and is owed funds by the Federal authorities. Therefore, food kitchens in the camps are mostly inactive, and bread
and other rations rarely distributed. Tents and railway carriages have not been refurbished with insulation for the winter, though the winter weather is quickly
approaching.The Russian Ministry of Emergencies (Emercom) is not servicing food kitchens for IDPs in the refugee camps and only rarely distributes bread in the
camps. Emercom, which runs the camps, states that they lack the funds to keep the canteens running and are owed money from the Federal budget and the budget
of Ingushetia. Even today, the majority of IDPs are remaining in Ingushetia despite the poor services and conditions. These people fear to return to Chechnya to face
the threat of further bombings, cleansing of towns and villages, and arrests leading to detainment in filtration camps.
Recent figures of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the
Danish Refugee Council, which recently completed a survey of IDPs living in Ingushetia, states that 160,000 to 180,000 IDPs remained in Ingushetia 1 August. Up to 600 refugees are still entering Ingushetia every day from Chechnya. This figure depends on the extent of military
actions in Chechnya. People have recently been fleeing from cleansing and armed clashes in Urus Martan, Grozny, Shali, argun and other villages.
Elementary human rights are being violated
on a large scale in Chechnya every day. CPCD local staff working in the republic regularly receive news of or even witness such abuses. Civilians may be shot at
check points and then denied access to medical treatment in Ingushetia or another region inside Chechnya.
It is unlikely that the majority of IDPs in Ingushetia will return to Chechnya in the
near future. Many who have returned, have travelled back to Ingushetia due to the problems of protetction and damaged shelter. Therefore, most of those in
Ingushetia are planning to spend the winter months as refugees, instead of returning to Chechnya.
The withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya is only partial. The Russian
media portrays a picture of the war coming to an end, but it is likely that military clashes will continue for a significant length of time – as long as Russian forces
remain in the republic. Following such a brutal military campaign, the Russians have unleashed a bitter guerilla war, which will not be easy to stop.
Food, medicines, hygiene kits are urgently needed, as well as footwear and clothing. Many of the IDPs remaining in Ingushetia are surviving on food boxes
provided by international organizations. Other organizations/ agencies providing food for IDPs in Ingushetia include: the United Nations High Commission for
Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Care International, Danish
Refugee Council (DRC), Islamic Relief, Saudi Committee for Chechen and Kosovo Refugees and Hungarian Interchurch Aid. Regular food sector coordination
meetings are held in Moscow and on the field to monitor and coordinate this work. WFP, ICRC, DRC, CPCD, Care International and ACF usually attend these meetings.
The humanitarian situation inside Chechnya is worse than in Ingushetia, and few NGOs are able to work there. UN agencies are not able to operate inside
Chechnya due to security problems, but operate to some extent through the few NGOs which are there.