Un Official Bemoans Refugee Situation

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 6

The Chechnya to which Russian authorities want Chechen refugees to return is still in a profound humanitarian crisis. That is the belief of a high ranking United Nations official who visited Chechnya and Ingushetia in late January. Jan Egeland, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told Dmitry Suslov of Nezavisimaya gazeta in an interview published on February 3 that the refugee resettlement centers in Grozny are “filled to overflowing.”

But Egeland added that he still saw “hope for the future,” pointing out that tens of thousands of refugees have returned. He emphasized that of the refugees remaining in Ingushetia with whom he had spoken during his trip, some had said that they do not want to return to Chechnya at all–even in the summer–because they do not believe that armed conflict will soon be over and they still fear for their own personal security.

Egeland said that “the Russian authorities must in actual fact, not just externally, uphold humanitarian standards and demand their consistent observance. According to information from non-government organizations, pressure and terror from armed groups are still continuing.”