Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December 2014, 08:37 GMT

Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009 - Russian Federation

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 17 May 2010
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009 - Russian Federation, 17 May 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bf2526a11.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
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 IDPs80,000
Percentage of total population0.1%
Start of current displacement situation1994 (Chechnya); 1992 (North Ossetia)
Peak number of IDPs (Year)500,000 (1996)
New displacement0
Causes of displacementInternal armed conflict, generalised violence, human rights violations
Human development index71

More than 15 years after they first fled their homes, at least 80,000 people were still internally displaced in the North Caucasus in 2009 and an unknown number of people were still displaced elsewhere in the country. Over 800,000 people in Chechnya had been displaced by successive separatist wars that broke out in 1994 and 1999, while up to 64,000 ethnic Ingush people had been displaced during the 1992 conflict with Ossetian militants over Prigorodny district in North Ossetia.

In early 2009 the federal government pronounced that the decade-long "counter-terrorist" regime in Chechnya had ended. However, attacks, abductions and killings increased during the year, and the authorities continued to carry out "special operations", reportedly abducting, killing and in some cases burning down the homes of people suspected of collaborating with alleged insurgents. Perpetrators of human rights abuses continued to enjoy impunity, while people exposing cases were threatened, harassed and killed, curtailing the reporting of human rights issues in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Despite continued insecurity, IDPs from Chechnya living in Ingushetia reported that government officials put pressure on them to sign return application forms in 2009. The campaign of promoting return of IDPs to Chechnya from temporary settlements in Ingushetia was the result of an agreement early in the year between the presidents of the two republics. Soon after the agreement the remaining IDPs in Ingushetia were taken off the government's accommodation and assistance list and the government terminated financial agreements with temporary settlement owners accommodating them. IDPs reported they later had difficulties in extending their residence registration, which limited their access to social services. Some IDPs who returned to Chechnya subsequently went back to Ingushetia after government promises of accommodation in Chechnya did not materialise. The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe visited the North Caucasus in 2009 and emphasised that the choice of IDPs to return, integrate at their current residence or settle elsewhere in the country must be individual and voluntary.

Over 25,000 people had returned to North Ossetia by 2009 with government assistance. In 2009, the leaders of North Ossetia and Ingushetia signed an agreement to improve relations, including through facilitation of the return and settlement of IDPs. However, it was unclear whether all IDPs would be able to return to their places of origin. Some returnees reported that they could not use housing compensation to settle in return areas, but primarily in Maiskoy or Novy, villages to which IDPs had already been resettled. An additional difficulty for returnees was the temporary suspension of payments because federal funds had not been fully disbursed. Access of IDPs to the housing compensation programme has been limited, with few recipients in 2009.

Inadequate housing continues to be an issue for most IDPs and returnees. Some 40,000 people in Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and North Ossetia still needed a permanent home in 2009. The authorities in Chechnya and Ingushetia continued to close the collective "hostels" in which many still lived, and at a faster rate than before in Ingushetia. IDPs were not always fully informed about hostel closures and relocations, nor were they willing to move, and alternative accommodation was not always adequate. Many IDPs in hostels in Chechnya did not have a proper lease agreement for their accommodation, and so were unprotected against unlawful eviction and ineligible for some subsidies. The government reported that IDPs in several hostels in Grozny were given the chance to take ownership of their apartments free of charge. Outside the North Caucasus, evictions of IDPs living in hostels continued, without alternative accommodation being offered.

Some IDPs also still struggled to secure and maintain documents. IDPs within and beyond the North Caucasus continued to have problems renewing internal passports, residence registration and the "forced migrant" status which they needed to access jobs, services and benefits. Some 40,000 displaced elderly people from Chechnya living outside of the North Caucasus only received a minimum pension, because their work booklets and the archives showing their work history were destroyed during the conflicts and no mechanism had been put in place to ensure they received the pensions they were entitled to.

To ensure that statements made in 2009 by several government agencies about durable solutions for IDPs are translated into action, housing programmes for IDPs should continue and efforts should be expanded to include measures to facilitate IDPs' access to services and benefits, increase their self-reliance, and address the needs of the most vulnerable IDPs. Continued monitoring of IDPs and returnees is needed to ensure they can increasingly enjoy their rights on a par with their non-displaced neighbours.

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