Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Russian Federation

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Russian Federation , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 19 January 2018]
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.

At the end of 2002, the Russian Federation hosted about 17,400 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection. These included 13,800 refugees registered with Russia's Ministry of Interior (MOI), 600 asylum seekers whose cases were pending with the MOI, about 1,900 asylum seekers from outside the Commonwealth of Independent States who were registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and 1,100 persons granted temporary protection.

Refugees from Georgia comprised 80 percent of all recognized refugees. Fewer than 3 percent of refugees recognized since 1993 originated from outside the former Soviet Union (FSU) – almost all from Afghanistan. During 2002, the MOI recognized only 51 persons as refugees, of whom 44 were Afghans.

About 492,000 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, the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) considers more than 150,000 Afghans without legal status in Russia and some 13,000 Meskhetian Turks in the Krasnodar region to be living in refugee-like circumstances.

At year's end, more than 371,000 persons remained internally displaced in the Russian Federation. These included about 141,000 inside Chechnya, 103,000 in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, 8,000 in neighboring Dagestan, an estimated 40,000 elsewhere in the northern Caucasus region and in Moscow, some 67,000 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 12,000 forced migrants in Ingushetia who were displaced in 1992 during the conflict over the disputed Prigorodnyi region of North Ossetia.

Nearly 25,300 asylum seekers from the Russian Federation filed applications in other industrialized countries in 2002, a 30 percent increase over the previous year. These included some 4,100 in Germany, 2,600 in Poland, 2,200 in Austria, more than 2,000 in the United States, and 1,700 in France.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia, the government's failure to improve its asylum system or to grant benefits accorded to refugees and forced migrants under Russian law, and public fear and mistrust of persons of non-Russian ethnicity, encouraged by government claims that the war in Chechnya was to root out terrorists and Chechen rebels' own actions, all combined in 2002 to make conditions for the uprooted – particularly ethnic Chechens and asylum seekers from outside the FSU – extremely difficult.

Refugees and "Forced Migrants"

The number of formally recognized refugees in the Russian Federation has dropped almost 90 percent since 1998, in part because many refugees from countries of the FSU de-registered after Russia's 1997 law, "On Refugees" (hereafter, "refugee law"), eliminated several of the benefits accorded to refugees, such as compensation for lost property and choice of residence. The decline also reflects the far lower refugee recognition rates 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 46 persons in 2002, continuing a downward trend from 236 persons in 2001 (down from 5,751 in 1997).

The refugee law applies to non-citizens of the Russian Federation, while the forced migrant law applies to citizens of the Russian Federation or of the FSU who are eligible for 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, 492,000 individuals were registered with the MOI as forced migrants (cumulative registrations from 1993 through 2002), a 20 percent decrease from last year and a 44 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. 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 eligibility for that status that Chechens would seem to merit based on the language of the law.

In practice, forced migrant status has been accorded almost exclusively to non-Chechens (Russian-speakers) displaced permanently from Chechnya, most of whom fled the first phase of conflict between 1994 and 1996. In 2002, only 768 persons from Chechnya were registered as forced migrants; and the total number of persons registered as forced migrants from Chechnya actually declined during the year. Some 82,300 forced migrants were registered in the Southern Federal District of the Russian Federation, of whom 67,000 – almost all Russian-speaking or ethnic Russians who fled between 1994 and 1996 – were displaced from Chechnya.

Some 75 percent of all forced migrants registered at the end of 2002 came from Central Asia, and another 17 percent from the Caucasus. By country or region of origin, the largest number of forced migrants came from Kazakhstan (216,819), followed by Chechnya (67,015 – 20,243 fewer than in 2001), Uzbekistan (64,907), Tajikistan (44,342), Georgia (27,488), Kyrgyzstan (16,197), North Ossetia (13,236), and Azerbaijan (14,003).

According to a 1997 resolution, forced migrants from Chechnya are eligible for compensation for lost homes and properties, as well as for physical and psychological damages. Courts, however, 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 bombing and shelling. Even those who have been compensated – some 15,000 by mid-2001 – received only a fraction of the cost of their losses.


The Russian Federation ratified 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 FSU (referred to as the "far abroad") by denying their applications outright.

Since 1997, the authorities have registered ethnic Russians displaced from the successor states of the FSU as either forced migrants or immediately accorded them citizenship.

Responsibility for refugees and forced migrants within the Russian government has shifted repeatedly, 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 Vladimir Putin dissolved the MFA and put the MOI in charge of refugees and asylum.

In February 2002, President Putin signed a decree on streamlining migration policy in the Russian Federation, which re-established the FMS under the MOI and charged it with implementing legislation on refugees and forced migrants. An order followed, spelling out the organization of the FMS and other departments within the MOI.

These changes in administrative structure delayed and confounded refugee status determinations during 2002. Although asylum applications were accepted throughout the year, few applications were actually considered on the merits. Unable to obtain identity documents, many asylum seekers were vulnerable to arrest and deportation.

In Moscow, the regional migration officials did not attend court hearings on refugee cases for several months, leading the court to issue positive decisions on many claims, which the Moscow migration service (MMS) later refused to recognize. The MMS later appealed many of the courts' positive decisions.

By law, registration of applicants should take no more than five days. The MMS, however, continued to place asylum seekers on a pre-registration waiting list without issuing them identity documents confirming their applicant status. The waiting period, on average, lasted 18 months to two years, leaving asylum seekers vulnerable to police harassment.

During the year, UNHCR brought several cases of lengthy pre-registration to the courts, which ruled that the Moscow authorities must register cases within the specified timeframe.

According to UNHCR, Moscow authorities routinely rejected asylum seekers on grounds that their cases were not admissible, without actually considering the claims on admissibility grounds in the law. Under the law, asylum seekers arriving from countries deemed safe and undocumented applicants who do not meet a 24-hour filing deadline are inadmissible. The law also disqualifies applicants (or recognized refugees) who commit any crime in Russia, however minor. The courts ruled in favor of asylum seekers in hundreds of these cases during the year. However, all of these practices substantially delayed status determinations, while the asylum seekers remained without legal documentation.

Because of such difficulties, UNHCR continues to register far-abroad asylum seekers itself. During the year, UNHCR registered about 1,900 asylum seekers, more than 1,500 of them from Afghanistan. Others came from Iraq, Somalia, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and North Korea. Since 1992, UNHCR has registered more than 40,000 asylum seekers from outside the FSU, of which about 11,000 were still seeking asylum or receiving UNHCR assistance.

During 2002, UNHCR assisted in resettling 220 refugees to other countries, most of whom faced threats to their protection in Russia. These included 124 refugees from Afghanistan and smaller numbers, mostly from Africa. An additional 437 UNHCR-recognized refugees were awaiting resettlement at year's end.

Temporary Protection

The Russian government passed a resolution in April 2001 regulating the granting of "temporary protection" according to Article 12 of the refugee law. A total of 1,144 persons, including 1,094 Afghans, had been granted temporary protection by the end of 2002, up from 330 in 2001. The majority of decisions were issued in St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, and Rostov.

Temporary protection is granted for up to one year to persons who cannot be returned for humanitarian reasons, including refugees who, for the foregoing reasons, apply for it instead of asylum. It is granted through an individualized procedure, distinct from the asylum process.

According to the procedure, a territorial branch of the MFA has three months from the day of application to decide on each case. While the application is pending, the territorial migration authority issues a letter certifying that the person has applied for temporary protection, which serves as a document for the applicant to present to local police and authorities. Once granted, applicants receive a certificate.

Although the resolution states that temporary protection may be extended beyond one year, few, if any, extensions had been granted by year' s end. In addition, the MMS reportedly refused to consider temporary protection applications from asylum seekers previously denied substantive consideration of their refugee claims. During the year, UNHCR-sponsored lawyers appealed this practice to the courts, which ruled it illegal. By year's end, the MMS began considering the applications.

USCR counts recipients of temporary protection in Russia along with refugees and asylum seekers because the documented inadequacies of the Russian asylum process may preclude substantial numbers of bona fide refugees from using it to acquire protection.

Formerly Deported Peoples

During the Stalin era, the 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 and, after the Cold War, large numbers of ethnic Germans went to Germany. However, many of the "formerly deported peoples," as they are known, remain stranded and, since the break up of the Soviet Union, have become stateless.

About 90,000 Meskhetian Turks, deported by Stalin from Georgia to central Asia in the 1940's, fled persecution in Uzbekistan and other newly independent central Asian republics after the Soviet Union broke up. About half migrated to Azerbaijan and half to the Russian Federation, where they are legally eligible for citizenship.

Around 1992, more than 13,000 of the Meskhetian Turks settled in the Krasnodar region of the Russian Federation. In February 2001, the Meskhetians were rendered officially homeless when the law allowing them to register and live there expired. In addition, local authorities stripped the Meskhetians of some of the few social benefits they had previously enjoyed.

During 2002, local authorities prevented them from regularizing their status, despite their entitlement to Russian citizenship. Instead, they required the Meskhetians to register as "guests" every 45 days. The Meskhetians faced harassment from local police and Cossacks. In June, several Meskhetian families went on a hunger strike to protest the policy of local authorities, which refused to register them as residents or to approve residence purchase contracts that allocate farmland. Although Russian authorities reportedly considered granting citizenship to the Meskhetians during the year, no such policy had been implemented by year's end.

In November, officials from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow visited Krasnodar to assess the possibility of resettling to Meskhetian Turks from Krasnodar to the United States. However, no decision had been announced by year's end.

Undocumented Migrants

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, to receive public assistance and non-emergency medical care, or even to 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 in Russia vary widely, most sources agree that the number exceeds 1 million. 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 others, 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 who travel through Russia on their way to Western Europe are 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) during 2002 because the authorities lacked the financial resources to expel them. In November, however, a new law to fund deportation came into force. The law imposes the financial responsibility for deportation on the entities that invite deportable foreigners to the country. Another law passed in July, the Code of Administrative Offences, establishes a judicial procedure for deportation. Although UNHCR provided lawyers for some asylum seekers faced with deportation, an unknown number may have been deported during the year.

Throughout the year, newly arriving asylum seekers were not protected from deportation. The Russian penal code allows the government to apprehend undocumented migrants, of whom unregistered asylum seekers are an especially vulnerable group. Border guards may detain people at the border if their documentation appears to have irregularities. 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 registered asylum applicants should not be detained, but the vast majority of foreign nationals whom border authorities apprehend are deported without the opportunity to apply. No credible independent estimates exist of the number of asylum seekers rejected at Russia's land borders. According to Russia's Interior Ministry, 15,400 foreigners were deported in 2002. In addition, about 1.26 million foreigners and resident aliens were charged with legal violations in 2002, according to the Moscow Times.

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, none has ever done so. 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 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. The authorities do not permit undocumented passengers to leave the transit zone, and generally return them promptly to the airlines that transported them to Moscow. The airlines contact UNHCR only when experiencing problems in carrying out deportations. As a result, the Russian State Airline Aeroflot's Deportation and Fraud Division often deports undocumented asylum seekers before they have had a preliminary assessment of their claims.

Internal Migration Restrictions

During 2002, many of Russia's regions and cities continued to restrict migration within Russia through local registration requirements resembling the Soviet-era "propiska" system. Under the propiska system, citizens had to carry booklets 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, Kabardino-Balkaria, 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 authorities, in particular, targeted newcomers throughout 2002, particularly Chechens and other darker-skinned minorities, with vigorous enforcement of Moscow's registration rules.

In the northern Caucasus, as well, displaced people from Chechnya reported that local authorities often refused to register them, even for a temporary stay.


Major displacement in and from Chechnya has occurred in two phases. In the 1994 to 1996 war, an estimated 600,000 were displaced, about 200,000 of whom returned after hostilities ended.

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 preferred to integrate in other parts of the Russian Federation. However, they often encountered problems relating to legal status, residence permits, and lack of compensation for their losses. At the end of 2002, about 67,000 of these displaced persons remained registered as forced migrants.

Although full-scale warfare abated in 2001, widespread human rights violations continued amid sporadic clashes between the rebel forces and the Russian military and police. Internal displacement remained high, as few displaced persons could return permanently to the republic. Most still considered it too dangerous, preferring, with no negotiated settlement in sight, to wait for some sign that the violence would stop. At the end of 2002, about 140,000 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. Most residents lived in unsafe, damaged buildings. Despite Russian claims of large-scale reconstruction, the city's infrastructure, with the exception of some roads, remained in disrepair. Several hospitals and clinics functioned in 2002, but most were in damaged buildings and lacked equipment and medicines.

Rebels ambushed or laid mines against Russian convoys, attacked checkpoints, and assassinated Russian-appointed civilian administrators. Russian troops retaliated with mop-up (zachistka) operations and other disproportionate and indiscriminate force.

Zachistka sweeps, purportedly undertaken to search for Chechen terrorists, were often conducted in civilian areas and were accompanied by alleged robbery, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and beatings, as well as disappearances and extrajudicial executions. Russian forces targeted certain villages several times. On January 3, Russian forces in Tsotsin-Yurt reportedly beat about 80 residents, injuring some severely. Again in Tsotsin-Yurt two months later, Russian troops arrested and transferred some 300 male residents to a filtration camp, later releasing them for ransoms, according to Memorial, a local human rights non-governmental organization (NGO). In its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. State Department said that federal forces "reportedly beat, raped, tortured, and killed numerous detainees" held at such camps during the year.

In March, Russian forces detained several men in Starye Atagi, ten of whom subsequently disappeared. During the sweep, residents discovered seven burned bodies that they could not identify. In response to criticism over this and other incidents, the commander of the united military forces in Chechnya issued Order 80 establishing rules of conduct for sweep operations. Order 80 called for military personnel to be accompanied by representatives and local officials, identify themselves when entering homes, and to share with local officials the names of people arrested. By year's end, however, many Russian forces were not following these rules and the military continued to conduct sweeps with impunity.

In another incident, in late May, Russian forces sealed off the town of Mesker-Yurt for 20 days, allowing no one to enter or leave the village. During the lock down, about 20 people reportedly disappeared and troops beat others.

The federal organizations established to examine alleged human rights violations were not empowered to investigate or prosecute the offenses in Chechnya and had to refer complaints to the military or civil authorities. Nor did Russia allow for independent, outside investigations, refusing to renew the mandate of the Chechnya mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which expired on December 31. "For the third year, the federal government did not comply with a 2001 UN Commission on Human Rights resolution calling for a broad-based independent ... inquiry to investigate alleged human rights violations and breach of international humanitarian law," the U.S. State Department report said.

Chechen rebels also committed human rights violations during the year, reportedly killing civilians who would not assist them, using civilians as human shields, targeting ethnic-Russian civilians in Chechnya, and preventing displaced persons from leaving Chechnya. The most publicized attack on civilians began on October 23, when about 40 Chechen rebels took more than 750 people hostage at a Moscow theater, threatening to kill the hostages if Russian troops did not withdraw from Chechnya. Russian security forces entered the theater three days later and released toxic gas, killing 127 hostages and about 41 rebels. The rebels also killed two hostages during the three-day stand off.

Two months later, on December 27, a suicide bomber drove a vehicle into the governmental headquarters in Grozny, and set off explosives killing more than 80 people – many civilians – and wounding many more. Russian forces blamed the attack on Chechen forces, who denied responsibility. However, according to the State Department report, Chechen rebel fighters continued a concerted campaign, launched in 2001, to target and kill civilian officials of the Russian-supported administration in Chechnya. In addition, individual Chechen field commanders were responsible for paying for their own units, leading some to resort to drug dealing, kidnapping, and allegedly receiving funds from foreign supporters of terrorism to raise money, blurring the distinction between rebel forces and criminal gangs, the U.S. State Department said.

Throughout 2002, humanitarian agencies were often forced to suspend operations because of intermittent violence, including the ongoing threat of common crime and the abduction of aid workers. In July, UN agencies operating in Chechnya suspended operations after Nina Davydovich, director of the local NGO Druzhba, was abducted while travelling between Grozny and Nazran. In August, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) suspended its operations after masked gunmen in Makhachkala, Dagestan abducted Peter-Arjan Erkel, MSF's director of operations there. Davydovich and Erkel had not been found by year's end. In December, Russian forces shot and killed Luiza Betergerieva, also of Druzhba, at a checkpoint near Argun.

According to Russian authorities, almost 1,500 people have been reported as having disappeared in Chechnya over the last three years. The NGO Memorial puts the figure at 2,000. Approximately 600 people have been found, but many were not found alive.

The year ended with accelerated efforts by Russian authorities to force displaced people living in tent camps in Ingushetia back to Chechnya. Following the October hostage taking, Russian authorities finalized plans to close seven camps housing some 23,000 Chechens in Ingushetia. As of December, authorities had closed one of the camps – Aki-Yurt – housing 1,700 displaced Chechens. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), "Without exception, residents of the remaining six camps [said] that they did not want to return due to the unsafe conditions in Chechnya, but pressure on them was unrelenting." According to Russia's FMS, 2,700 displaced persons in Ingushetia camps returned to Chechnya between November 21 and December 24. Although Russian officials claim that returns to Chechnya are voluntary, HRW considered such returns to be forcible.

In contrast to the events on the ground, on December 24, the Russian Duma adopted a resolution "On Normalizing the Situation in the Republic of Chechnya," drafted by the Duma's commission for political settlement and human rights in Chechnya. In addition to proposing the withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic, the commission urged a political settlement in Chechnya and federal programs to reconstruct the war-torn republic.

Ingushetia and Dagestan

At year's end, an estimated 103,000 internally displaced Chechens were living in the tiny neighboring republic of Ingushetia, although the authorities stopped registering new arrivals at the end of March 2001. The local Ingush government claims that the number is tens of thousands fewer, suggesting that thousands of displaced persons may have been de-registered, living in Ingushetia without assistance. Ingushetia's own local population is about 350,000.

Throughout the year, internally displaced Chechens in Ingushetia faced intense pressure from Russian and Ingush authorities to go back to Chechnya. In May, local authorities signed a 20-point action plan for the return of displaced persons to Chechnya by October 2002. Russian authorities promised them accommodations back in Chechnya that did not exist, cut off federal food distribution to the camps, removed needy displaced persons from federal food distribution lists, closed down some of the camps, conducted security operations in settlements housing the displaced, and stationed military forces near the camps. In December, authorities closed down the Iman tent camp in Aki Yurt, Ingushetia, housing some 1,700 displaced Chechens.

Despite Russia's efforts to portray conditions in Chechnya as returning to normal, UN agencies worked to upgrade camps and to seek alternatives rather than to promote returns, although UNHCR assisted local authorities to facilitate some voluntary returns. During the first half of the year, UNHCR estimates that about 3,300 Chechens in Ingushetia returned to Chechnya, while another 2,950 came to Ingushetia from Chechnya.

Most of the displaced in Ingushetia lived without federal assistance and received support only from international agencies. Many suffered from malnutrition, inadequate shelter, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, and the constant risk of being evicted from their temporary shelters. Hundreds of displaced persons were evicted from private housing in Ingushetia during the year, often for failure to pay rent. The worst conditions were in abandoned collective farms or other buildings where displaced people squatted.

Dagestan, another of Chechnya's neighboring republics, hosted another 8,000 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 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 (30,000 to 60,000 people) in Prigorodnyi District and about 9,000 ethnic Ossetians fled as a result of the war. Although most Ossetians returned and many of the ethnic Ingush opted to integrate locally in Ingushetia, about 13,200 ethnic Ingush who still hoped to return remained internally displaced in Ingushetia registered as forced migrants.

In 2001, the governments of North Ossetia and Ingushetia signed a protocol to return forced migrants to 12 villages in the Prigorodnyi District. During 2002, about 235 families (1,200 people) returned, according to the Russian government. Since 1994, some 3,800 families (21,200) people have returned.

Russia's North Ossetia, in turn, hosted about 11,400 Georgian refugees and 15,000 forced migrants. Of these, about 200 refugees and 400 forced migrants originated from Georgia's South Ossetia.

During the year, UNHCR assisted 17 families (61 people) to repatriate from North Ossetia to Georgia, 16 of whom returned to South Ossetia.

UN Funding for the North Caucasus

In November, UN humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, the World Food Program, UNICEF, and six other agencies, issued a consolidated appeal requesting $33.7 million for assistance activities in Chechnya and Ingushetia in 2003. Although the appeal represents a five percent increase from the $32 million request for 2002 (revised downward to $24 million mid-year), it is 24 percent less than the agencies requested in 2001 ($44.8 million) and a 36 percent decrease from the $52.3 million UN consolidated appeal for 2000.

International donors had contributed $17 million, or about 71 percent of the UN agencies' 2002 requirements at year's end.

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