Last Updated: Friday, 08 December 2017, 11:58 GMT

Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Russian Federation

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 29 April 2013
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Russian Federation, 29 April 2013, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
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.
Number of IDPsAt least 29,000
Percentage of total populationAbout 0.02%
Start of displacement situation1992
Peak number of IDPs (year)500,000 (1996)
New displacement in 2012
Causes of displacementx International armed conflict
✓ Internal armed conflict
x Deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement
✓ Communal violence
x Criminal violence
x Political violence
Human development index55

At least 29,000 people were internally displaced in Russia as of the end of 2012. Conflict, human rights violations and generalised violence in Chechnya and North Ossetia forced people to flee their homes between 1992 and the early 2000s. In 1992, up to 64,000 people were displaced during an inter-ethnic conflict between Ossetians and Ingush over Prigorodny district in North Ossetia. More than 800,000 people were affected by wars in Chechnya in 1994 and 1999, pitting Russian forces against Chechen separatists seeking independence. Moscow has declared both conflicts resolved, but their causes and consequences have yet to be fully addressed.

The conflict in Chechnya has transformed over time, with jihad-inspired insurgents now leading the revolt. Insecurity, violence and human rights abuses by both insurgents and law enforcement authorities continued with impunity throughout North Caucasus in 2012, and rebel activity even spread to the Volga region late in the year. The federal government considers the continuing instability a result of the poor economic situation, and has tried to stabilise the region by funding development initiatives. Such projects, however, contain no special measures to address IDPs' outstanding needs related to their displacement.

The Russian authorities have made efforts to assist those forcibly displaced in North Caucasus. Their interventions have improved the lives of many IDPs, but a considerable number still do not fully enjoy their rights, in some cases up to 20 years after their displacement. Ongoing concerns include persistent insecurity; insufficient access to adequate housing, jobs and documentation; ineffective property compensation mechanisms and continuing obstacles to return and local integration. Some IDPs have become more vulnerable over time, and most survive on social benefits and temporary work.

More than 300,000 people have returned to Chechnya and many would prefer to settle in the capital, in order to access the few economic opportunities that exist in the republic. The Grozny authorities, however, prioritise IDPs who were previously residents of the city and exclude others, whom they believe should return to their original villages. Permanent housing assistance, for example, is only available to those registered as Grozny residents. Some of those not registered continue to live in 11 remaining hostels, which were temporary housing solutions provided by the government. One group managed to privatise their hostel living space in 2012, but others continue to live in such accommodation without contracts and so are vulnerable to eviction. The pace of evictions slowed significantly in 2012, but the risk remained.

In Ingushetia, the condition of temporary housing the government originally provided to IDPs in 1999 remained extremely precarious. Eleven internally displaced families went on hunger strike in protest in 2012. The authorities had served them eviction notices and offered rental payments, but the families demanded funds to acquire adequate housing. They were unable to return because their housing was destroyed or occupied as a result of the conflict, they had not received sufficient compensation and they were unable to improve their situation on their own. The strike ended after three days when Ingushetia's minister of nationalities agreed to take their appeal on board, but as of the end of the year their situation had not changed.

The Council of Europe adopted a report in 2012 on the situation of IDPs and returnees in North Caucasus. Its recommendations included legislation that incorporates the Guiding Principles, a survey to identify IDPs and the issues they face, the creation of jobs for IDPs and the building of more social housing. The council highlighted corruption in the region and recommended the government increase the transparency and oversight of budgetary spending. UN agencies left the North Caucasus in 2011, but ICRC and a number of international NGOs run programmes to assist the region's IDPs.

The Russian authorities' efforts to improve IDPs' situation in North Caucasus include property compensation, and the establishment of the Kadyrov Fund and Chechen legal bureaus, but more needs to be done to help them achieve the durable solution of their choice. The housing programme in Ingushetia for 1,500 internally displaced families from Chechnya should be fully funded without further delay. This also entails improved data and information collection, targeted programmes to address IDPs' specific needs, better communication and consultation with IDPs and greater efforts towards achieving a lasting peace in the region.

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