Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees to Focus Its Activity on Chechnya

The Russian presidential human rights envoy in Chechnya Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, discussed the problems and prospects of humanitarian co-operation in the North Caucasus.

In the course of the working meeting held in the headquarters of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday, said Sultygov, an agreement was reached that the Office would concentrate its activity on the Chechen Republic. No specific dates were announced, but "strategically, the question has been decided," said the Russian president's human rights envoy.

He pointed out that the Office of the High Commissioner and other humanitarian organisations had long dealt with Ingushetia alone and thus, "willingly or unwillingly, slowed down the refugees' return homeland." This happened because people were subjected to a kind of psychological pressure: when leaving for the Chechen Republic they were deprived of though insignificant, but still real assistance on the part of humanitarian organisations.

Until the March referendum in Chechnya, the Office, according to Sultygov, "refused to raise this issue, but today there is understanding on this score, and the aid will follow the people." "If some forced migrants remain in Ingushetia, their problems will be solved in accordance with the Russian legislation, but there will be no tent camps any longer in the territory of the Russian Federation," underscored the human rights envoy of the Russian president.

According to Sultygov, he "reminded the High Commissioner that not a single case was registered when refugees were forced to return to Chechnya," or of attempts to influence the opinion of the participants in the voting during the referendum. At the same time, he pointed out that some humanitarian "non-governmental organisations started to disseminate pro-extremist ideas, to misinform people and even to plunder the aid, as a matter of fact, by falsifying the lists of the refugees." At the meeting in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees the human rights envoy of the Russian President touched upon, in his opinion, "a very serious problem of social adaptation of the amnestied people, including their reunification with the families." Abdul-Khakim Sultygov pointed out that "the principle of transparency and real care on the part of international humanitarian organisations should also be spread" on this category of citizens.

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