U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Russian Federation
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||10 June 2002|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Russian Federation , 10 June 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3d04c15424.html [accessed 13 February 2016]|
At the end of 2001, the Russian Federation hosted about 28,200 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection. These included 21,141 refugees registered with Russia's Ministry of Interior (MOI); 79 mandate refugees recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); 742 asylum seekers whose cases were pending with the MOI; about 5,900 asylum seekers from outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) who were registered with UNHCR; and 330 Afghans granted temporary protection during the year.
Refugees from Georgia comprised 70 percent of all recognized refugees. Less than 3 percent of recognized refugees since 1993 originated from outside the former Soviet Union, almost all arriving from Afghanistan. During 2001, the MOI recognized only 126 persons as refugees, of whom 111 were from Afghanistan.
More than 625,000 persons registered with the MOI as "forced migrants" – overwhelmingly from countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus – were living in "refugee-like" conditions in the Russian Federation at year's end. In addition, more than 150,000 Afghans without legal status were living in Russia and considered by the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) to be living in refugee-like circumstances.
At year's end, more than 474,000 persons remained internally displaced in the Russian Federation. These included about 160,000 inside Chechnya; 160,000 in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia; 10,000 in neighboring Dagestan; 30,000 elsewhere in the northern Caucasus region; some 100,000 persons displaced during the previous (1994-96) war in Chechnya (mostly ethnic Russians, who were registered with the MOI as "forced migrants"); and more than 14,000 "forced migrants" in Ingushetia who were displaced in 1992 during the conflict over the disputed Prigorodnyi region of North Ossetia.
Nearly 17,800 asylum seekers from the Russian Federation lodged refugee claims in other industrialized countries in 2001, a 20 percent increase compared to the previous year. These included 4,543 in Germany, 2,451 in Belgium, 1,753 in France, and 1,513 in Poland, where they were the largest group of asylum seekers.
Apart from the humanitarian catastrophe in Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia, conditions for the uprooted – particularly ethnic Chechens and asylum seekers from countries outside the former Soviet Union – remained extremely difficult in 2001. The poor conditions stemmed both from the government's failure to improve its asylum system or to grant the benefits and freedoms accorded to refugees and "forced migrants" under Russian law, as well as public mistrust of nonethnic Russians, perpetuated by the government's claims that the war in Chechnya was necessary to root out "terrorists."
Refugees and "Forced Migrants"
The number of formally recognized refugees in the Russian Federation has dropped considerably since 1998, largely because many refugees from countries of the former Soviet Union de-registered after Russia's 1997 law, "On Refugees" (hereafter, "refugee law"), eliminated several of the benefits accorded to refugees. The decline also reflects the far-lower refugee recognition rates, in recent years, by various government ministries and agencies responsible for implementing Russia's refugee law and its companion law, "On Forced Migrants" (hereafter, "forced-migrant law"). The MOI granted refugee status to only 236 persons in 2001, continuing a downward trend from 277 persons in 2000, 382 in 1999, 510 in 1998, and 5,751 in 1997.
The legal distinction between refugee and forced migrant is based primarily on citizenship. The refugee law applies to noncitizens of the Russian Federation, while the forced-migrant law applies to citizens of the Russian Federation or citizens of the former Soviet Union who are expected to assume Russian Federation citizenship. Therefore, the government's registry of forced migrants includes both internally displaced persons and persons from other former Soviet republics.
At year's end, 625,639 individuals were registered with the MOI as forced migrants (cumulative registrations from 1993 through 2001), about a 30 percent decrease from the more than 880,000 registered at the end of 1999. The decrease reportedly occurred as larger numbers of forced migrants from outside Russia acquired Russian citizenship and lost their forced migrant status, and because the authorities have almost always declined to register ethnic Chechens displaced by the second phase of the Chechen war (starting in 1999) as forced migrants, despite the new displacement from the conflict in Chechnya and the prima facie eligibility for that status that Chechens would seem to merit based on the language of the law. In effect, forced-migrant status has been accorded only to nonethnic Chechens (Russian-speakers) displaced permanently from Chechnya, most of whom fled the first phase of conflict, between 1994 and 1996. In 2001, not a single person was registered as a forced migrant within Chechnya itself, and the number of persons registered as forced migrants from Chechnya actually declined during the year. Some 169,400 forced migrants were registered in the Southern Federal District of the Russian Federation, of whom 70,500 – almost all Russian-speaking or ethnic Russians who fled between 1994 and 1996 – were displaced from Chechnya.
Nearly all forced migrants registered at the end of 2001 came from two regions: Central Asia (69 percent, or 432,815 persons) and the Caucasus (18 percent, or 111,544 persons). By country or region of origin, the largest number of forced migrants came from Kazakhstan (259,827), followed by Chechnya (87,258 – 27,109 fewer than in 2000), Uzbekistan (80,306), Tajikistan (59,190), Georgia (30,361), Kyrgyzstan (23,907), North Ossetia (22,111), and Azerbaijan (20,740).
According to a 1997 resolution, forced migrants from Chechnya are eligible for compensation for lost homes and properties, as well as for physical and moral damages. As of July 31, 2001, more than 30,400 forced-migrant families had submitted claims for compensation. According to the Russian government, 29,700 had received positive responses, of whom 15,300 had received compensation and 14,400 were on a waiting list.
However, the issue of compensation has been the controversial subject of court battles. Courts have dismissed claims for compensation arising from actions by the Russian Ministry of Defense, such as death and destruction of homes and property caused by Russian military bombing and shelling. Even those who have been compensated have received only a fraction of the cost of their losses, and the 1997 resolution made no allowance for inflation. Following Russia's 1998 financial crisis, the ruble has devalued considerably and housing prices have soared.
Formerly Deported Peoples
During the Stalin era, the central Soviet authorities forcibly transferred large populations within the Soviet Union, including nearly all Chechens from Chechnya to Central Asia, some 250,000 Crimean Tatars from the Ukraine to Uzbekistan, and about 380,000 Volga Germans to Siberia. After Stalin died, many of the deported populations were able to return to their original homelands, while after the end of the Cold War, large numbers of ethnic Germans went to Germany. However, several of the "formerly deported peoples," as they have come to be known, have remained stranded, and since the breakup of the Soviet Union, have become stateless.
About 90,000 Meskhetian Turks, originally from what is now Georgia and deported by Stalin to central Asia, fled persecution in Uzbekistan and other newly independent central Asian republics after the breakup of the Soviet Union. About half migrated to Azerbaijan and half to the Russian Federation.
In 2001, about 13,000 of the Meskhetian Turks who had settled in the Krasnodar region of the Russian Federation appeared to be highly vulnerable and living in refugee-like circumstances. Local authorities were unwilling to register them and prevented them from regularizing their status, despite their entitlement to Russian citizenship. During 2001, local authorities stripped the Meskhetians of some of the few social benefits they had previously enjoyed. Starting on February 1, the day temporary registration expired for all 13,000 Meskhetian Turks in Krasnodar, local authorities went house to house and began issuing fines for violating internal passport regulations. Many Meskhetians had lived in the same homes for more than a decade, but were suddenly unregistered and officially homeless.
The Meskhetian Turks were often harassed not only by local police, but by local Cossacks as well. In May, four busloads of Cossacks arrived in the village of Novoukrainskoye, going house to house and inspecting and confiscating identity and residence documents. The Cossacks, wearing paramilitary uniforms and wielding clubs, reportedly beat some of the village men severely and ransacked stores.
The Russian Federation acceded to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol in 1992 and enacted national legislation to implement the Convention in 1993. Before replacing that legislation in 1997, the authorities applied the law on refugees almost exclusively to asylum seekers from former Soviet countries (referred to as the "near abroad") – often granting them refugee status on a prima facie basis – and restricted access to those from outside the former Soviet Union (referred to as the "far abroad").
The 1997 refugee law restricts access to asylum for both near- and far-abroad asylum seekers. Substantial numbers of ethnic Russians displaced from the successor states of the former Soviet Union applied for refugee status in Russia until 1997; however, since then, the authorities have either registered such applicants as forced migrants or immediately accorded them citizenship. As in previous years, significant barriers to asylum for "far abroad" applicants remained firmly in place throughout 2001.
Responsibility for refugees and forced migrants within the Russian government has shifted repeatedly in recent years, causing confusion and interruption in services and protection for asylum seekers, refugees, and forced migrants. Responsibility first shifted in mid-2000, when the Ministry of Federal Affairs, National and Migration Policy (MFA) replaced the Federal Migration Service (FMS). Seventeen months later, President Putin dissolved the MFA and put the Ministry of Interior (MOI) in charge of refugees and asylum.
At year's end, it was unclear how the MOI would conduct refugee status determinations. Because of disarray in the government bureaucracy, large numbers of asylum seekers were unable to gain access to asylum procedures during the year and unable to obtain identity documents, heightening their vulnerability. In Moscow, officials appeared to place asylum seekers on an asylum pre-registration waiting list, but did not issue them identity documents confirming that they were asylum seekers with pending claims, leaving them without the basic protections or social benefits guaranteed in the refugee law. Asylum seekers without legal status were particularly vulnerable to police harassment. The number of asylum seekers actually registered in Moscow at the end of 2001 with pending claims was 28. Afghans comprised 90 percent of the asylum applicants pending with the MOI at year's end.
Under the law, the registration process may take up to five days, during which the asylum seeker is not legally in the country and has virtually no rights. Because many far-abroad asylum seekers still encounter substantial difficulties in registering their claims and obtaining protection in Russia, UNHCR continues to register far-abroad asylum seekers. As the year drew to a close, UNHCR reported that 5,913 asylum seekers were of concern to the agency, overwhelmingly from Afghanistan (5,066). These included 3,657 asylum seekers (70 percent) awaiting registration by the MOI in Moscow, 138 pending a refugee status determination, 848 denied refugee status by the MOI, others in various stages of the appeals process, and 250 applicants for temporary protection.
During 2001, UNHCR assisted in resettling 335 refugees to other countries, most of whom faced threats to their protection in Russia. The total included 220 refugees from Afghanistan and 91 from Africa. An additional 916 UNHCR-recognized refugees were awaiting resettlement at year's end.
UNHCR also assisted 50 refugees in repatriating during the year, nearly all of whom returned to various African countries.
In April 2001, the Russian government adopted a resolution to regulate the granting of temporary protection according to Article 12 of the refugee law. "Temporary asylum" is granted for up to one year to persons who do not have grounds for recognition as refugees but who cannot be returned for humanitarian reasons, or to persons who could be recognized as refugees but who apply only in writing. By year's end, 330 Afghans had been granted temporary protection.
Because most far-abroad asylum seekers, including those registered with UNHCR, never receive refugee status, Russian authorities consider them to be illegal migrants. Without legal status, they are denied most rights, including the right to work, receive social services and nonemergency medical care, and even register marriages and births. Many schools do not accept the children of far-abroad asylum seekers because of their illegal status.
Although estimates of the number of undocumented foreigners are notoriously unreliable, in October 2001, Russia's Interior minister estimated that 1 million foreigners were in the Russian Federation, most undocumented. He cited the number when saying, "We need a radical revision of our migration policy." His remarks came the same week that President Putin dissolved the Ministry of Federal Affairs, National and Migration Policy and transferred responsibility for migrants to the Interior Ministry.
An estimated 150,000 Afghans were living in the Russian Federation without legal status at year's end. Most lived in urban centers, including about 50,000 in Moscow. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of other "illegal immigrants," many from Africa and the Middle East, were also living in the country. Many of the undocumented could be refugees, although their claims have never been registered or adjudicated. The population is generally transient, and many third-country nationals who travel through Russia on their way to Western Europe are often reluctant to register either with government officials or international organizations such as UNHCR.
Despite their illegal status, most far-abroad asylum seekers already living in the Russian Federation appeared to be free of the immediate threat of refoulement (forcible return to persecution) during 2001 because the authorities lacked the financial resources to expel them. However, newly arriving asylum seekers were not protected.
Although the government generally does not detain registered asylum seekers, the Russian penal code allows the government to apprehend "illegal migrants," of whom unregistered asylum seekers are an especially vulnerable group. Border guards may detain people at the border if "irregularities" appear in their documentation. Immigration authorities are also authorized to detain foreigners with deportation orders "for the period necessary to carry out the deportation."
Russia's penal code stipulates that detention should not apply if a person enters the Russian Federation illegally to apply for asylum. The vast majority of foreign nationals whom border authorities apprehend are deported before they can gain access to the asylum procedure, however. Because of the difficulty of border monitoring, no credible independent estimates exist of the number of asylum seekers deported or rejected at Russia's land borders. In 2000, the Federal Border Service reported that 69,000 foreigners were turned away at Russia's borders.
Under Russian law, the government's "Points of Immigration Control" (PIC) offices handle asylum requests at ports of entry and along Russia's vast borders, although, in practice, no PIC has ever accepted an asylum applicant. One of the most active of the country's 114 PIC offices is housed at Moscow's Sheremetevo-II Airport, which receives a large number of African and Asian asylum seekers. No effective refugee screening exists at the airport, however, and undocumented asylum seekers are often deported without the opportunity to address their asylum claim to the PIC. Aeroflot's Deportation and Fraud Division often deports undocumented asylum seekers before they have had a preliminary assessment of their claim.
Internal Migration Restrictions
During 2001, many of Russia's regions and cities continued to restrict migration within Russia through the use of internal passports resembling Soviet-era propiskas. Under the propiska system, citizens had to carry an "internal passport" – a booklet full of stamps and signatures spelling out where they lived, for whom they worked, what their qualifications were, and to whom they were married.
Regional authorities in Stavropol, Krasnodar, and Moscow reportedly targeted migrants with strict, discriminatory registration requirements, despite Constitutional Court rulings that abolished most aspects of the propiska system. Although federal authorities have said that some regions' registration systems contravene federal law, officials have done little to stop such practices. Moscow remained openly hostile to newcomers throughout 2001, particularly toward Chechens and other "darker-skinned" minorities, evidenced primarily through the vigorous enforcement of Moscow's registration rules.
In the northern Caucasus, displaced people from Chechnya reported that they had to renew their temporary registration every month during 2001, and that they were often refused internal passports at their places of temporary stay. Displaced persons attempting to register for new places of permanent residence were often denied because of their failure to cancel their residence registration at their previous home, often impossible because of the danger of returning to destroyed home areas. In practice, ethnic Chechen displaced persons rarely traveled in the northern Caucasus outside Ingushetia, both because of the difficulty of registering with local authorities and because of the hostility they encountered from local populations.
Racist and Anti-foreigner Violence
Attacks against foreigners and dark-skinned persons were common in Moscow in 2001. The victims were often reluctant to report the attacks because they lacked legal status or feared the police themselves.
In August, a group of teenage "skinheads" carrying clubs and bottles attacked six African asylum seekers outside the UNHCR office, killing an Angolan. Because the attack occurred outside its office, UNHCR urged the authorities to press charges. In contrast to most other racist attacks, the alleged perpetrators were arrested (although two of the three arrested were released on bond). The teenager accused of killing the Angolan asylum seeker was not charged with murder or even unintentional homicide, but rather with "hooliganism, committed using arms."
On October 30, hundreds of skinheads went on a rampage in Moscow markets at two metro stations, targeting dark-skinned persons, injuring scores of people and killing three. Although Africans were especially vulnerable, all dark-skinned persons were at risk, including Roma, Indians, Afghans, and persons from the Caucasus regions, including Armenians, Azeris, and especially Chechens.
The Russian authorities have sent decidedly mixed signals on xenophobia and racial intolerance. In April, President Putin appealed for an end to racial discrimination. Calling Russia a "multinational state," he urged the police to crack down on perpetrators of racially motivated crimes. But Putin's own policies exacerbated the problem, inflaming anti-foreigner sentiment by blaming Chechens or other "foreign terrorists" for attacks within the Russian Federation.
According to a call-in poll taken by Segodnichko, a Russian television program, one-third of the respondents said they believed the police were racist, yet more than half the respondents said that they sympathized with racist groups. Police often targeted minorities through random document checks on the street, frequently refusing to accept the official UNHCR identification documents.
Major displacement in and from Chechnya has occurred in two phases. In the first outbreak of war between 1994 and 1996, an estimated 600,000 were displaced, about 200,000 of whom returned after hostilities ended in August 1996.
An estimated 170,000 persons remained internally displaced from the 1994-96 conflict when the second phase of Chechnya's civil war began in August 1999. Many of the displaced were ethnic Russians who had no intention of returning to Chechnya, preferring to integrate into other parts of the Russian Federation. However, they often encountered problems relating to legal status, residence permits, and lack of compensation for their losses, to which they were entitled under Russian law. At the end of 2001, about 100,000 of these displaced persons remained registered as "forced migrants."
Although full-scale warfare abated in 2001, widespread human rights violations continued in the midst of scattered, but almost daily, clashes in the dusk-until-dawn hours between rebel groups and Russian military and police forces. Internal displacement remained high, as few displaced persons returned to their homes. Most still considered it too dangerous to return, preferring, with no negotiated settlement in sight, to wait for some sign that the fighting would stop. At the end of 2001, about 160,000 persons remained internally displaced within Chechnya itself, out of a total population remaining within Chechnya of about 600,000.
Chechnya's capital, Grozny, remained devastated from years of bombing. Nearly every building in the city was damaged or destroyed. Residents lived in unsafe, damaged buildings, often without heat, although some used dangerously rigged, makeshift gas piping to heat their poorly ventilated flats. A local human rights organization, Lam, reported in October that not a single residential building had been restored in Grozny, despite Russian media claims of reconstruction. The city's infrastructure, with the exception of roads, remained nonfunctional. Potable water was scarce, creating a constant threat of water-borne disease for the estimated 60,000 to 127,000 people residing in the city (from a pre-war population of about 415,000). The city also lacked a functioning electrical power or sewage system. Streets were filled with litter, building debris, rotting garbage, and puddles of backed-up dirty water from the failed sewage system. A disproportionate number of Grozny's remaining local population were elderly or disabled; some 29,000 especially vulnerable elderly and disabled were eligible for specialized humanitarian assistance, when it was available. Unemployment in Grozny was estimated at more than 90 percent in 2001.
Many of Grozny's hospitals have been completely destroyed. Several hospitals and clinics functioned in 2001, but most were in damaged buildings and lacked adequate equipment and medicines.
In August, Russian officials reported that eight displaced-persons camps had been built inside Chechnya and that another seven were under construction in Grozny to accommodate anticipated returnees. That month, the Russian Federation Security Council decided not to repair worn-out tents in Ingushetia, but rather to build new ones in Chechnya in order to promote return. However, late in the year, tent camps within Chechnya located along the Terek River were reported to be mostly rotten and barely habitable. In December, President Putin's special envoy for human rights, Valdimir Kalamanov, described the tent camps inside Chechnya as "absolutely unfit."
Military and police checkpoints limited movement within Grozny. Although their number was reportedly reduced in 2001 compared to 2000, it was difficult to establish a firm count. In late September, observers reported that it was almost impossible to move about the town because of the number and strictness of checkpoints. Local residents in Grozny and throughout Chechnya continued to report irregular behavior by federal troops at checkpoints, including the collection of unauthorized "taxes" to pass through. Lack of documents (often destroyed by the war) inhibited many Chechens from traveling for fear of being arrested at checkpoints, and was a factor in preventing the return of internally displaced persons.
Russian federal forces continued to conduct "special operations" or "mop-up" (zachistka) sweeps, purportedly to search for Chechen rebels. Such operations were often conducted in civilian areas and were accompanied by abuses, including alleged robbery, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and beatings, as well as "disappearances" and extra-judicial executions. Low-intensity conflict continued throughout the year, with rebels setting ambushes or landmines against Russian convoys and checkpoints and assassinating Russian-appointed civilian administrators, and the federal troops retaliating with intensified zachistka operations and other disproportionate and indiscriminate force.
Although Russia pledged to respect human rights in Chechnya and hold soldiers responsible for their conduct there, a local nongovernmental human rights organization, Memorial, reported in December 2001 that Russian troops were still "running out of control" in Chechnya, "not following procedure orders issued by the prosecutor general, and terrorizing civilians." Memorial alleged that Russian soldiers were stealing household goods, extorting money from civilians, and imposing collective punishments on noncombatants. In October, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) reported that federal troops' "terror against the civilian population sometimes appears senseless and arbitrary, [but] more often it appears calculated at extricating the maximum profit through plunder, extortion, and racketeering."
During the year, humanitarian agencies were often unable to deliver assistance because of poor security and violence, including the ongoing threat of common criminality and abduction of aid workers. In January, all aid organizations suspended operations after the abduction of American aid worker Kenny Gluck, the head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the northern Caucasus. In May and again in September, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) suspended its operations in Chechnya for security reasons. The government often interfered directly in the delivery of humanitarian aid. According to the Chechen Administration's Resolution Number 22, international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were required to announce any planned travel into Chechnya five days in advance and were required to carry certain documentation, although the permits required were unclear. Because of uncertainty regarding permits, many expatriate humanitarian workers stayed out of Chechnya. Local truck drivers trying to deliver humanitarian assistance reported soldiers asking for bribes at checkpoints, sometimes in a drunken state.
In April, unknown gunmen shot and killed one of the most widely recognized human rights and humanitarian workers in Chechnya, Viktor Popkov. After Popkov was shot on the outskirts of Grozny, Russian soldiers stopped his car at a checkpoint and reportedly spent three hours checking his documents while he bled profusely, falling into a coma from which he never recovered. In June, a drunken Russian soldier at a checkpoint in Grozny shot an ICRC representative in the stomach, seriously wounding him.
On October 31, NGOs and the government signed a letter of understanding on humanitarian action in Chechnya, affirming that the aid work was guided by humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality. The government agreed to issue three-month permits for humanitarian NGOs to operate in Chechnya. In the weeks following the signing of the letter of understanding, however, NGOs reported that they still were not allowed to use radio frequencies in Chechnya (greatly compromising the security of humanitarian workers), and that the Russian authorities appeared to be increasingly strict and bureaucratic regarding visas, taxes, and registration of NGOs. The situation took an ominous turn in December when General Sergei Babkin, the head of the FSB (the Federal Security Service, successor to the KGB) in Chechnya said that the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) "provides help to people who do not need it and creates an unhealthy uproar in society." Two days after his remarks were published, three DRC local staff were severely beaten by unidentified assailants in Urs-Marten, Chechnya, requiring hospitalization; they were reportedly in serious condition.
The year ended with Russia and Chechnya no closer to negotiating a settlement and ending the cycle of violence. In November, an envoy of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov met with a representative of President Putin, but reached no common understanding. In the final weeks of 2001, Russian forces sharply escalated "mop-up" operations in Argun, Tsotsin-Yurt, and other villages, looting homes, allegedly arresting and beating scores of villagers, and killing and mutilating suspected rebels among them.
Ingushetia and Dagestan
At year's end, 150,000 internally displaced Chechens were officially estimated to be in Ingushetia. The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) believes the number was probably larger by at least another 10,000, since the authorities stopped registering new arrivals as of the end of March 2001. During the year, NGOs conducted unofficial monitoring at Chechnya's main crossing point into Ingushetia, and noted that between 5,000 and 7,000 displaced people returned to Chechnya and between 10,000 and 12,000 newly arrived in Ingushetia, a net increase of between 3,000 and 7,000 newly displaced people into Ingushetia. Other NGOs, most notably the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, estimated 50,000 newly displaced during the year. Ingushetia's own local population stood at about 350,000. About 45 percent of the displaced in Ingushetia lived in private accommodations in 2001, while another 35 percent lived in collective centers and 20 percent in tent camps.
An estimated 40 percent of the internally displaced persons in Ingushetia were formerly from Grozny and unable to return because their original homes were uninhabitable. In 2001, very little return of internally displaced persons from Ingushetia to Chechnya occurred, although movement continued to and from Chechnya, making it difficult to keep track of the number of internally displaced persons in Ingushetia.
UN agencies in cooperation with the Ingush authorities worked to improve temporary living conditions for displaced persons during the year. Thousands of displaced persons who had been living in railroad cars were moved into all-weather tents, and agencies continued to upgrade camps and to seek alternative accommodations throughout the year.
However, conditions for most remained dismal. According to surveys released by MSF in December 2001, more than half of the displaced people living in private accommodations reported that they had had to move, usually because rooms were "too expensive." MSF reported severe overcrowding for people living in private accommodations, and noted that tent camp populations often did not have enough showers and latrines to accommodate the camp residents. The worst conditions were in "spontaneous settlements," abandoned collective farms or other buildings where displaced people squatted. NHC reported in October that the situation in spontaneous settlements was "abysmal," with many people living in barns and stables considered unfit for animals because they "lacked money to be accommodated privately or to bribe the local officials in order to obtain a tent in a proper camp." At least hundreds of displaced persons were evicted from private accommodations in Ingushetia during the year, often for failure to pay rent.
Dagestan, another of Chechnya's neighboring republics, hosted another 7,000 displaced persons. The displaced in Dagestan included Chechens who had fled Chechnya, as well as segments of Dagestan's own population displaced by Chechen rebel attacks on Dagestan in August and September 1999.
Other Displacement in the Northern Caucasus
Competing territorial claims over the Prigorodnyi region, a part of North Ossetia that is claimed by Ingushetia, sparked a war between ethnic Ingush and Ossetians in 1992. Almost the entire ethnic Ingush population (34,000 to 64,000 people) in Prigorodnyi District and about 9,000 ethnic Ossetians fled as a result of the war. Although most Ossetians returned home and many of the ethnic Ingush opted to integrate locally in Ingushetia, about 14,150 ethnic Ingush from North Ossetia who still hoped to return to the Prigorodnya region remained internally displaced in Ingushetia. They were officially registered as forced migrants.
In September, the chairmen of the governments of North Ossetia and Ingushetia signed a protocol intended to pave the way for the return of forced migrants to 12 villages in the Prigorodnyi District.
Russia's North Ossetia, in turn, hosted 1,653 Georgian refugees, most from Georgia's South Ossetia, at year's end.
Impact of Funding Shortfalls
UN humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, the World Food Program (WFP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and six other agencies, issued a consolidated appeal in November 2001 requesting about $32 million for assistance activities in Chechnya and Ingushetia in 2002. The appeal represented a 25 percent decrease from the $44.8 million request for 2001 (revised downward to $42.5 million mid-year), which was a 19 percent decrease from the $52.3 million UN consolidated appeal for 2000. Particularly striking was the cut in half of the WFP request, from nearly $24 million in 2001 to $12.7 million for 2002.
International donors had only pledged $35.3 million, or about 83 percent of the UN agencies' requirements, as of mid-October 2001. As a consequence of funding shortfalls, agricultural and economic recovery projects were not implemented in 2001.
The ICRC presented an emergency appeal of $32.8 million for the northern Caucasus region in 2001, but had only received about $14.9 million by mid-December 2001, less than half the budgeted need.
Russian government funding to meet basic humanitarian needs and reconstruction in Chechnya also faltered in 2001. In early November, the Russian-appointed chairman of the Chechen Administration said that funding shortages were preventing preparations for winter, and that about $34 million (1 billion rubles) would be needed during the last two months of the year.