No Letup In Pressure On Chechen Refugees

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 11

More details have emerged about the March 6 raid on the Satsita refugee camp in Ingushetia (see Chechnya Weekly, March 10). According to a March 10 article in Nezavisimaya gazeta, the raid took place when Ella Pamfilova, head of Vladimir Putin’s commission on human rights, was visiting Ingushetia. Pamfilova was forced to admit to the newspaper that pressure on the refugees is indeed taking place.

Pamfilova has been more optimistic than many independent human rights monitors about the state of Chechnya’s resettlement centers for newly returned refugees. But she conceded to Nezavisimaya gazeta that, if free to move at their own pace, the refugees would not all return from Ingushetia before May or June. At the same time, however, Momash Machuev, an official of the Kadyrov administration’s committee for refugees, recently said that the Satsita and Sputnik camps are to be closed “by the middle of March.” That would leave no remaining camps whatsoever in Ingushetia, and leave many Chechen families with no practical choice but to return to their bloody homeland.

On March 12 the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights issued a report on the refugee crisis, recommending that “the same type of compensation must be offered to all internally displaced persons who have lost their housing and property, independently from their decision to return to Chechnya or not.” The Federation’s report also called on the Russian authorities to “ensure that persons seeking refuge from Chechnya, with its ongoing fighting and grave security threats, receive the forced migrant status and are able to find adequate shelter in other areas of Russia.”