Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2010 - Russian Federation

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 23 March 2011
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2010 - Russian Federation, 23 March 2011, available at: [accessed 29 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 IDPs6,500-78,000
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 index65

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. None of the conflicts have been fully resolved, and the situation in the North Caucasus has reportedly deteriorated since 2009, with an insurgency ongoing in several republics and violence, insecurity and human rights abuses by insurgents and government forces increasing.

At the end of 2010, estimates of the number of people still internally displaced ranged from 6,500 to 78,000, but no authoritative figures were available. The federal migration service reported that over 4,600 people from Chechnya and about 1,800 from NO-A had "forced migrant" status. The number of IDPs may be higher since this status is only valid for five years, it is difficult to renew and only some IDPs are eligible for it. Humanitarian organisations estimated that there were still at least some 30,000 IDPs from Chechnya in Chechnya, 6,500 in Ingushetia and 3,500 in Dagestan, as well as 1,500 IDPs from NO-A in Ingushetia. There were no estimates of the number of IDPs living outside of the North Caucasus.

Estimates of the number of IDPs who had returned to their homes also varied and it was not clear how many had made their return sustainable. Humanitarian organisations reported that around 70,000 IDPs returned to Chechnya from Ingushetia and Dagestan from 2003 to 2010, while according to federal government statistics, some 255,000 IDPs returned to Chechnya from all of Russia from 1999 to 2009. Humanitarian organisations reported that over 25,000 IDPs had returned with assistance to NO-A from Ingushetia since 2005, while the government reported it had assisted the same number to return since 1994. Return movements were negligible during 2010.

IDPs' efforts to rebuild their lives in their home areas in Chechnya and NO-A have been complicated: many of their homes have been destroyed or occupied by others, and many of them do not have documents to prove their ownership of property. For these people, compensation to secure other housing has been inaccessible or at best insufficient, while little municipal funding has been allocated to offer them housing or land plots. The majority no longer enjoy "forced migrant" status or the housing support the status confers. In Chechnya, housing assistance is only available in areas where IDPs have permanent registration, while in NO-A, IDPs cannot always use housing assistance to buy or build homes at their original place of residence, as some areas have been closed to return.

Despite government and international efforts to provide land and housing to IDPs, long-term housing solutions are still needed for around 7,000 internally displaced families in the North Caucasus. Many of them have remained in temporary accommodation, moved in with relatives or ended up living in hostels in their second or third place of displacement. The temporary settlements with the worst living conditions in 2010 were in Ingushetia; they were far worse than hostels in Chechnya. In both republics most IDPs living in collective temporary accommodation did not have a tenancy contract that would protect them against eviction.

Private and government-managed temporary accommodation for IDPs continued to close in Chechnya, Ingushetia and elsewhere in the country during 2010, with the pace of closures quickening in Ingushetia. Many evictions were not carried out in accordance with international standards, and IDPs often ended up enduring worse living conditions. In 2010, IDPs living in temporary settlements in Ingushetia appealed to the republic's ombudsman regarding their security of tenure.

The federal and republican governments continued to implement programmes of benefit to the general population of the North Caucasus, including IDPs. However, the specific needs of IDPs in these areas remained significant and, meanwhile, the situation of those outside of the North Caucasus continued to be neglected. In 2010, the national ombudsman in Moscow was developing recommendations to address the problem of counterfeit documents that has led to loss of property by IDPs from Chechnya.

Most international organisations assisting IDPs were planning in 2010 to phase out their programmes. Nonetheless, the European Commission committed additional funding for the North Caucasus in 2010, including for 45,000 displaced people. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women demanded in 2010 that the Russian government provide comprehensive information on the situation of internally displaced women and girls in the country.

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