Chechnya/Ingushetia: A Deliberate Strategy of Non-Assistance to People in Crisis
2 November 2002
Since the resumption of war in Chechnya in 1999, MSF has repeatedly denounced the conduct of Russian and pro-Russian forces toward Chechen civilians. Testimonies gathered by MSF staff working in Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia and Georgia have illustrated the arbitrary and violent nature of treatment meted out to civilians in Chechnya as a result of the "fight against terrorism" being waged by the Russian authorities. Conditions in Chechnya: An open air prison The violence of the conflict, the Russian repression and the assimilation of civilians with the actions of the rebel groups make every civilian a potential victim. Men from 15 to 50 years of age are the most threatened, and the random violence and risks to which they are exposed often oblige them to flee or join ranks with the soldiers. Far from improving, this situation has continued to deteriorate. Since September 2001, the resumption of bombing, rocket fire, and the danger of stray bullets have forced many Chechens to spend most of their time seeking safety in their cellars, like rats. In Chechnya, horror is a part of daily life. Last year, Russia officially and publicly invited aid organizations to assist with the reconstruction of Chechnya, presenting their request to MSF in March 2001. Since that time, however, the prevailing climate of insecurity coupled with the unreasonable pressures exerted on NGO independence by Resolution 22 has made access to Chechnya more and more difficult and hazardous. Aminat, age 23 - Logobaz, Nazran She is six months pregnant: "I have been here for a week and I'm sick! There were terrible bombings on Argun on October 8th and 9th, so I came here. I couldn't stand it there anymore, my husband was taken in a cleansing operation seven months ago, he had no papers, and I haven't heard from him since." Ingushetia: The "invisible" displaced Chechens MSF is extremely aware and concerned about the inability of aid organizations to handle the needs of the tens of thousands of newly arrived displaced Chechens in Ingushetia, many of whom are living in kompaknikis or squats, with little or no assistance. The deplorable conditions for displaced Chechens in Ingushetia, their inability to get registered and receive assistance, and the threats and pressure on them to return to Chechnya may also deter people in need of safety and assistance from seeking refuge there. Khouzimat, age 101 - Sleptsovskaya She lives in the corner of a barn at Bogatyr: "I haven't gotten anything for three months. Fortunately, the neighbors bring me a dish of food at night. And I bake bread outside."