Moscow - Following recent heavy rains and subsequent flooding that has struck nine provinces in Russia, MSF team have started proving assistance to the three worst hit regions. Teams are assessing the situation for action as well as distributing basic medical and health kits to the local facilities and residents.
In addition, MSF teams are working in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Ingushetia and Chechnya, in both Grozny and Shatoy. The worst hit areas are in the southern mountainous regions which are sparsely populated.
Road access to some of the villages has been cut off and there is little confirmed information available. Background The flooding started a week ago after heavy rains. To date the floods have left 110 towns and villages without electricity and destroyed thousands of houses. The death toll was 72 people by June 26. MSF will provide necessary medicines such as antibiotics, if required, in areas where the organisation is active.
Presently, MSF is distributing medical, surgical kits as well as hygiene kits for 2,500 persons. Judging by the previous MSF's experience in similar emergencies, and particularly MSF assistance to flood victims in Lensk, Yakutia in May 2001), it is disinfection material that is most needed and in shortest supply.
MSF is planning to provide local doctors with drugs, Aquatabs to purify water and is planning to distribute the necessary hygiene kits. In the near future, and also depending on the weather, MSF shall remain in the region and shall continue to assess the situation. Lack of safe drinking water On June 25, MSF team arrived in the Stavropol region to assess the basic, immediate needs of the population who suffered from the floods.
To date, the team has visited several towns and villages in the region and have started assessing the situation. According to the preliminary data, the most affected regions are Kochubeyevski, Georgiyevski and Nevinnomysk. Having visited Barsukovskoye (pop: 4,000 population) and Nadzornoye (pop: 3,000), MSF doctors have noted increased number of cases of pneumonia, hypertension and stress. Nine regions have been affected by the floods and initial unconfirmed reports are that 400,000 people lack safe drinking water. According to Russian officials, the flood waters killed large numbers of livestock, whose carcasses are now rotting in the heat.
The flood waters also unearthed burial sites of anthrax-infected cattle. Ingushetia In the central region of Ingushetia, where there are the most camps and settlements, heavy rains have caused mostly muddy and unsanitary conditions in the settlements.
Some of the conditions pre-date the floods - such as the appalling sanitary conditions in Sputnik camp. The structures are still standing but filled with mud. The infrastructure has been swept away. Families there have been sleeping outside on a raised platform for the past two days. The main urgent request has been for a temporary solution for the cooking facilities as a gas-mains connection had been swept away.
MSF will provide bottled gas and a number of additional stoves immediately; as well as liaise with other organisations there regarding the sanitation problem. Chechnya The worst hit area's are Grozny town and Shatoy rayon in the mountains. Two MSF teams conducted an assessment yesterday. The only road to Shatoy is still flooded making the town unreachable.
All bridges across the Argun river have been destroyed, which leaves only the road through Argun as a possible route to reach the area. Grozny is reachable from the northern road and the northern part of the town is untouched. Some of the temporary mud structures erected by returnees have been completely swept away, but only a few were possible to visit.
MSF is considering re-direct some of the tents still in stock to families in Grozny who have lost their shelter due to the floods, but only after a visual inspection by MSF teams. In the long term, the main concern is the failure of temporary systems for potable water, which can lead to an increase in waterborne diseases. The issue is being addressed by field staff from multiple organisations active there.