Chechen Refugees: On the move

The exodus into neighbouring republics of refugees from war-torn Chechnya threatens to upset the delicate balance within the ethnically diverse North Caucasus. The international community has no access to Chechnya and this has hindered the provision of aid for the thousands who have fled. The bulk of them have sought shelter in Ingushetia where estimates put the number of registered refugees at almost three hundred thousand.

The World Today Published 1 April 2000 Updated 27 October 2020 3 minute READ

Professor Tracey German

Professor in Conflict and Security, Kings College London

Tamara Pataraia

Visiting Research Associate, Scottish Centre for International Security, University of Aberdeen

Having sacked his entire government in November for its failure to cope with the refugee crisis, the Ingush President, Ruslan Aushev, said at the end of February that his republic could accommodate no more refugees because of a severe shortage of tents, food and medicines. According to him, it costs more than three million roubles ($114,000) a day to feed them. This is not covered by the ‘catastrophically insufficient’ aid his republic receives from Moscow.

Aushev has been a fierce critic of Russian policy towards Chechnya, expressing suspicions that the latest war was the culmination of plans that had been concocted by the Kremlin well in advance to achieve political objectives: ‘The Caucasus in general is the testing ground for Russia’s political forces. It is here that they score points before elections, boost their ratings, break into the Duma and fill their pockets. We in Ingushetia are hostages to this policy.’

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