Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 18

On June 14, Kris Janowski of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva reported: “UNHCR has won assurances from Moscow that an estimated 150,000 Chechens living in neighboring Ingushetia will not be forced back to their volatile Northern Caucasus homeland. UNHCR officials this week met with the federal Russian authorities in Moscow and local officials in Ingushetia, seeking clarification on a new government plan for return of Chechens who fled to Ingushetia almost three years ago.” And the report continued: “Chechens displaced in Ingushetia tell UNHCR that they are afraid to return home because of general insecurity, fighting and so-called ‘mop-up’ operations by security forces. Some also fear detention on return. Security concerns have prevented UNHCR from working in Chechnya and monitoring possible returns…. In Ingushetia, most of the displaced Chechens (64 percent) live with host families, and 21 percent live in spontaneous settlements–often in converted farm or industrial buildings–and only 15 percent are staying in tent camps” (, June 14).

The June 13 issue of Moskovskie Novosti carried a report by journalist Svetlana Kirillova entitled “Several Years in the Camps,” devoted to the situation of Chechen IDPs living in Ingushetia. According to these migrants, there are actually 190,000 Chechen IDPs dwelling in Ingushetia, since many of the IDPs live with Ingush families and thus “do not enter into the statistics of international charitable organizations.” “Women who have known the war in their own republic [of Chechnya],” Kirillova noted, “are preparing here in the camps physically to defend the lives of their children. They will do everything necessary so as not to return to Chechnya…. According to the data of the Chechen branch of Memorial and the social movement Chechen Committee for National Salvation, each month in Chechnya young men disappear without a trace…. In the most recent Memorial lists, peaceful lads who were on their way to work are said to have disappeared without trace. Almost all of them were born the same year: 1978. But there are victims born in 1981 and even in 1986. On 13 March of this year in the Leninsky District of Grozny, a [military] sniper shot dead a 13-year-old boy. The soldiers explained that the lad had thrown a rock at a checkpoint.”