Return to Chechnya?

Families who are planning to go to Chechnya in the near future
Camp no of families
Alina 20
Bella 20
Sputnik 8
Bart 6
Satsita 4
Grand Total 58
i. More than 98% of families do not want to return to Chechnya in the near future . Despite the unacceptable living conditions in the tent camps, 98% of the interviewed families do not want to go back to Chechnya in the near future (3,151 out of 3,209 families). a. Insecurity is the main reason why Chechens living in camps in Ingushetia do not want to go back to Chechnya.
  • 93% of those who declare they do not want to go back to Chechnya express fear for their family's security. (2,921 out of 3,151 families) "My husband went through a filtration camp, his shoulder was broken... he still has many scars from his detention. Our son, born in 1984 disappeared after being arrested at a check point in Urus Martan". "Day time I am afraid of the Russian soldiers, at night I am afraid of the Boeviks" "My son was detained by federals. They propose 3,000 USD to buy him back" b. Lack of housing is the second reason given for why they do not want to go back to Chechnya.
  • 74 % (2,337 out of 3,151) of families answered not having a home in Chechnya as a reason for not going back.
  • 67% (2,111 out of 3,151) of families gave both insecurity and not having a home in Chechnya as their main reasons for not wanting to return to Chechnya. 6% (197 families out of 3,151) of families gave not having a home (homes destroyed by war) in Chechnya as the only reason for not going back.
  • For 23% of interviewed families, fear for their family's lives is the only reason mentioned for not going back (731 families out of 3,151) to Chechnya. c. Aid is not a decisive factor in willingness to go back to Chechnya or not. "Living conditions are worse than in Grozny but at least here we fear less for the lives of our sons and husbands" Chechen refugees woman.
  • 88 % of families (2,777 / 3,151) did not make any mention of aid (neither lack of aid in Chechnya nor aid given in Ingushetia) as a reason for them not to go back to Chechnya.
  • Only 10% (321 / 3151) of families gave lack of aid in Chechnya as a reason for not going back.
  • Only 2 % (67 / 3151) of families gave aid in Ingushetia as a reason for them not to go back to Chechnya. These results clearly show that the very poor quality of aid in Ingushetia is not an incentive for people to stay. This is contradictory to statements made by Chechen, Ingush and Russian officials arguing that assistance to the Chechen refugees in Ingushetia is one of the main reasons which keeps people from going back to Chechnya. However, aid in Chechnya is also insufficient, notably because the insecurity threatening Chechen civilians is also threatening humanitarian workers. ii Less than 2% of interviewees (1.81%, 58 families) plan to return to Chechnya in the near future. The most common answer given by these 58 families was 'want to go back home' with no further comments (about 40% of families). This was followed by 'want to go back home and have a house in Chechnya' with 17% (of 58 families) of families answering this as a reason to go back. D. Closure of camps & Options in Ingushetia More than 98% of families do not want to return to Chechnya in the near future 1. no alternative place in Ingushetia 90% of all families surveyed said that they did not have an alternative place to stay in Ingushetia other than where they were living now. This represents 2.878 families out 3.209. Of the 58 families who are planning on returning to Chechnya in the near future, 51 families did not know of an alternative place in Ingushetia where they could stay. 7 families said they had other places where they could stay (in the private sector or with family and friends.) 90% of the families who are not planning on going back to Chechnya in the near future, didn't know of an alternative shelter in Ingushetia. This represents 2827 families out of 3151, totalling 14.443 people. If staying in Ingushetia is to be an option for Chechen families, at least 2827 shelters will have to be built.
    Families who do not want to go back to Chechnya in the near future and have no alternative place in Ingushetia to stay
    Camp no of families no of people
    Sputnik 698 3,695
    Satsita 526 2,838
    Alina 479 2,163
    Bart 434 2,376
    Bella 410 1,830
    Rassvet 185 1,047
    Uchkhoz 48 245
    Logovaz 47 239
    TOTAL 2,827 14,433
    2. What will you do if the camps close? "If camps are closed then only option right now is to go to TACs in Chechnya." Chechen refugee family. Of the 3151 families who are not planning on going back to Chechnya :
  • 6 % of families (202 out of 3151) said they would leave to Chechnya if the camps were closed. Of these :
  • 92% of these families (185 out of 202) said they knew of no place where they could stay in Ingushetia
  • 42 % of families (1319 out of 3151) said they would stay in Ingushetia if the camps were closed. But of these :
  • 81 % of the families ( 1071 out of 1319 ) said they knew of no place in Ingushetia where they could stay,
  • 19 % of these families (248 out of 1319) said they knew of a place in Ingushetia they could go to. E. Most vulnerable families identified "If the camps are closed I will address the UN. I raise 5 children alone. My 8 year old child is an invalid of the second group. My Uncle was crossed out of the lists. The Chief of Migration service promised to put him back for an application that he wants to go home [Chechnya]" Chechen refugee Woman Of the 2,827 families (representing 14,443 people) who have no alternative place in Ingushetia and do not want to return to Chechnya in the near future, 2,029 families have one or more additional vulnerability factors. The main additional vulnerability factors are -
  • 46 % of families (1285 out of 2827) have children 0-5 years old, (totalling 2,041 children 0-5 years old)
  • 41 % (1150 out of 2827) have 6 or more family members.
  • 9 % of families (245 out of 2827) have pregnant women (totalling 248 pregnant women);
  • 5 % of families (150 out of 2,827) have elderly 75 yrs old or above (totalling 163 elderly);
  • 5 % of families (134 out of 2,827) have a member who is severely disabled F. Chechen refugees in Ingushetia are being pushed back to Chechnya Since the 20 point plan of return of refugees to Chechnya signed in May 2002, and the closure of two camps (Znamenskoye in North Chechnya during the summer 2002 and Aki Yurt in Ingushetia in December 2003) families have been progressively returning to Chechnya from Ingushetia. VESTA, a UNHCR partner organisation, has recorded 3,184 people returning to Chechnya between 1st of January and 28th of March 2003, from all over Ingushetia (people living in the private sector and spontaneous settlements as well as the camps). At the same time, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), who maintains a database of people registered for aid in Ingushetia, has had a rapid decrease in figures since August 2002. In camps Alina, Bella, Sputnik, Satzita and Bart, DRC had 22,254 people registered in August 2002, and 14,594 people registered in March 2003. Though this does not mean that all those people have returned to Chechnya (they may have moved elsewhere, or they may be people with dual registration) it is still a significant decrease. BELLA CAMP April 2003 figures from the Chechen Committee for Forced Migrants say that between 30 to 40 families in Bella camp do not wish to return to Chechnya. According to MSF figures, 480 families in Bella (out of 500) do not wish to return, with 453 families mentioning security as a reason. The Chechen Committee for forced Migrants also says that they plan to give alternative shelter to those 30-40 families who expressed their desire to stay in Ingushetia. However, the MSF survey shows that in February 2002, 429 families in Bella Camp did not know of a place in Ingushetia where they could stay if the camps were closed. They do not have any other option In general terms, pressure for people to leave the camps is a lot less visible than in the summer. Nevertheless, people are being told that the camps will be closed. Refugees are being promised between 2,000 and 15,000 USD compensation for damaged property by the war. However, So far it has been announced that this is only given to those who return to Chechnya.
    The types of pressures currently being exerted by the authorities for people to leave the camps are less visible than those used during 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 , though some are similar and represent a continuation of pressure from those previous years.
  • The people are still being told that the camps will be closed. Different dates are given (the latest one being by spring 2003). The refugees are aware that the closure of the camps is not just a verbal threat, but a real possibility as they have already seen the closure of Znamenskoe camps in Chechnya and Aki Yurt camp in Ingushetia.
  • The Chechen administration announced that between 2,000 and 15,000 USD compensation will be given to families for property damaged by the war. However, So far the refugees have been informed that it will be only given to those families living in Chechnya. Even though 93% of refugees in the tented camps do not want to return due to security, this would mean they will not be eligible for this compensation unless they return.
  • The refugees have deliberately been enduring a strategy of non assistance by the government and by the aid community which has accepted the blockages and limitations imposed by the authorities on the delivering of humanitarian assistance to the refugees . People are exhausted of their unacceptable living conditions, particularly after having spent a fourth winter in the same state.
  • Alternative shelter is not offered when the closure of the camps is announced. The MSF survey shows, without any doubt, that refugees do not want to return to Chechnya, and that they are given no other place to stay in Ingushetia. People do not return on a voluntary basis, they simply give up under the pressure to push them back. Footnotes: 7 Questions were left with open answers for families to say what they wished. These answers were then classified into groups. For this reason multiple answers were possible. Most families interviewed gave two reasons for not going back (1924 families), followed by those who gave one reason for not going back (932 families) and those who gave three reasons for not going back (280). 8 Chechen Committee for Forced Migrants is part of the Chechen Administration in charge of organising the return of the displaced to Chechnya. 9 For more details on pressures exerted and forced returns between 1999 - 2002, see "UNHCR paper on Asylum Seekers from the Russian Federation in the Context of the Situation in Chechnya", February 2003, UNHCR. 10 Refer to MSF report "Chechnya/Ingushetia: A Deliberate Strategy of Non-Assistance to People in Crisis", MSF 2002. 11 "In November 2002 the Federal Migration Service requested interrnational organisations and NGOs including UNHCR, to stop the replacement or torn tents", UNHCR, Feb. 2003. The provision of alternative shelter by MSF has been blocked since January 2003, 180 rooms stand empty and have been declared illegal.