Returning Refugees Resettled Amid Ruins

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 25

Now that the Russian and Ingush authorities have succeeded in closing Ingushetia’s last tent camps for Chechen refugees, what conditions await the camps’ former residents? According to a report released on June 18 by the Nazran (Ingushetia) office of Memorial, the Moscow-based human-rights organization, the head of the Chechen section of the federal Interior Ministry’s migration department assured the organization’s representatives two weeks ago that properly equipped residential facilities would be available.

“A compact settlement equipped with services and utilities has been organized in the destroyed village of Bamut for families who expressed a wish to return to the Achkoi-Martan district [in western Chechnya],” said the migration official Asu Dudarkayev as quoted by Memorial. “Panel houses have been allotted to these families. Administrative and public buildings from the Satsita tent camp—a bath-house, a school and a mosque—are being moved there also.”

But when monitors from Memorial visited Bamut on June 12, they found only a “completely destroyed village” with no dwellings except for two small tent camps. “Only men live in the camps because they are not suitable for families,” reported Memorial. “There is no supply of electricity, gas and water to the village. The nearest settlements where one can buy foodstuff or be given medical care, namely the village of Assinovskaya in the Sunzha district of Chechnya and the village of Achkoi-Martan, are situated ten and eight kilometers away from Bamut. Tents leak when it rains. There is nothing to heat them with as there are no furnaces. Besides, it is dangerous to chop firewood in the nearest forests as they were mined during hostilities in 2000-2001.”