Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 11:51 GMT

Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Russian Federation

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 19 April 2012
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Russian Federation, 19 April 2012, available at: [accessed 24 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Quick facts
Number of IDPsAt least 8,500
Percentage of total populationLess than 0.1%
Start of current displacement situation1992 (North Ossetia); 1994 (Chechnya)
Peak number of IDPs (Year)500,000 (1996)
New displacement0
Causes of displacementArmed conflict, deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement, generalised violence, human rights violations
Human development index66

Armed conflict, human rights violations and generalised violence in the Russian Federation republics of Chechnya and North Ossetia-Alania (NO-A) forced people to flee their homes following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Over 800,000 people were displaced by wars that broke out in Chechnya in 1994 and 1999, while between 32,000 and 64,000 people were displaced during the 1992 conflict in NO-A. Most IDPs from Chechnya were displaced a number of times.

None of the conflicts had been fully resolved by the end of 2011. Government forces continued to perpetrate human rights violations including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and killings as part of their counter-insurgency campaign, and enjoyed impunity for these acts. Over 1,300 people were reported killed or wounded as a result of ongoing violence across the North Caucasus in 2011, and rights defenders and journalists faced harassment and violent attacks.

At the end of 2011, estimates of the number of people still displaced ranged from 8,500 to 28,000. The Federal Migration Service reported that there were around 5,600 people from Chechnya and 2,900 people from NO-A with "forced migrant" status in the North Caucasus. The number of IDPs is higher since "forced migrant" status is only valid for five years, it is difficult to renew and only some IDPs are eligible for it. NGOs estimated that there were still some 18,000 IDPs from Chechnya in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, and 10,500 IDPs from NO-A in Ingushetia. There were no estimates of the number of IDPs living in NO-A or outside the North Caucasus.

Only very few IDPs returned to their places of origin during 2011. Around 160 returned to Chechnya and an unknown number to NO-A. According to government sources, over 320,000 people had returned to Chechnya between 2001 and 2009, and more than 26,000 to North Ossetia by 2010. Some of them had gone back to their former homes, while others had moved into temporary accommodation or housing provided by the government or international organisations, or were living with relatives or acquaintances. Others remained in makeshift accommodation with little means to become self-reliant.

The limited income of most IDPs has forced them to continue to depend on government benefits as their main source of income. NGOs estimated in 2011 that more than 60 per cent of IDPs in Ingushetia and Chechnya who were able to work were unemployed; this rate was higher than the official rate of unemployment in both republics. IDPs reported obstacles to finding work that were linked to their displacement: some were unable to register as temporary residents in the place of refuge, others had missed periods of schooling, while the conflicts had left others with disabilities or needing to care for children and older or sick relatives.

The lives of many IDPs had improved by 2011 as a result of efforts made by the government. However, many still did not fully enjoy their rights after some 20 years in displacement. Government support had not always been sufficient for IDPs to secure adequate housing, and many continued to live in substandard and in some cases dangerous conditions. The amount of compensation for destroyed property was insufficient, its delivery and impact limited by corruption, and only those with totally destroyed housing were eligible to apply.

The majority of IDPs no longer enjoyed the "forced migrant" status they needed to access some housing support. In Chechnya, IDPs could only access housing assistance in the area where they had permanent registration; those in NO-A could not always use housing assistance to buy or build homes at their original place of residence, as return to some villages had been restricted.

The number of evictions of IDPs from temporary hostels in Chechnya increased in 2011. Most IDPs lacked a tenancy contract or residence registration at the hostel, and could therefore not legally contest their eviction. Some were able to find a place to live, but others had nowhere to go and were more vulnerable once evicted. In Ingushetia, the government planned to close temporary settlements by the end of 2011 and subsidise the rent payments of residents in alternative accommodation; however towards the end of the year it did not appear to have a clear plan for this resettlement, raising fears that IDPs would be evicted without alternative accommodation.

UN agencies including UNHCR had left the North Caucasus by the end of 2011, but agencies outside the Russian Federation continued to advocate for IDPs there. During 2011, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed that counter-insurgency measures should be conducted in line with human rights principles, and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights urged Russia to devote additional resources to social housing for IDPs and ensure the access of internally displaced children to education, to prevent their recruitment into military units.

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