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Humanitarian Crisis in Chechnya

After ten years of war and turmoil, Chechnya is experiencing a protracted humanitarian crisis of vast proportions that has largely gone unnoticed in the West. Homes and infrastructure are destroyed, landmines and booby-traps injure children on a daily basis and access to clean water is often a problem, not to mention electricity or heat. Poverty is rampant; according to the United Nations the vast majority of the population is poor, and 63% have to survive on less than $20 a month. There is hardly any adequate healthcare available for a population that suffers greatly from tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, high infant mortality and war-related disabilities as well as crippling post-traumatic stress disorder. Schools are opening again all over Chechnya, but are struggling to make do with bombed-out buildings, insufficient teaching materials and the fact that many teachers have been killed or have left Chechnya in search for safety.

Despite pledges from the Russian government that reconstruction would rapidly bring improvements, the situation on the ground has changed very little, and residents report that financial compensation for destroyed homes is only available after paying huge bribes.

Ongoing aid efforts:
Fortunately, there is a tenuous presence of international aid organizations. The United Nations' humanitarian agencies and programs have been active in the region for some years, although their access to Chechnya has so far been limited by the persisting danger to aid workers and difficulties with local authorities and the Russian government. They are cooperating with international and local NGOs (non-governmental organizations) such as Care or the International Rescue Committee. In order to solicit support from donor nations such as the United States and European countries, the UN publishes a so-called "Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal (CAP)" every year, outlining its activities, partners and financial requirements. The 2004 CAP can be downloaded here. The most recent CAP for 2005 is outlined and available for download here. NGOs are using private, public and foundation grants to provide crucial and often life-saving assistance to the people of Chechnya.

CAN urges its members and visitors to help by making a donation to the North Caucasus programs of the NGOs listed below or any others active in the region.

Maps detailing humanitarian aid activities in Chechnya and Ingushetia:
www.reliefweb.int/w/map.nsf/Emergency? OpenForm&Query=Russian+Fed.+-+Chechnya

How you can support humanitarian aid programs in Chechnya:
The following US and international NGOs accept donations for their work in Chechnya and Ingushetia:

Action Against Hunger:
Distribution of food and hygiene items to displaced people and local population, with particular attention to babies and breast-feeding mothers.

Care International/Care Canada:
Psychosocial rehabilitation for traumatized children and youth, education and vocational training. Helping drops-outs return to school, to prevent them from joining armed groups.

Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe/Help-Germany:
www.help-germany.de/english/eprojects/egrozny1.html (Project Description)
Locally managed distribution of food and household goods to internally displaced people and residents of Grozny. Co-funded by the EU's humanitarian aid program ECHO.Go to www.allaboutgiving.org to make tax-deductible donations from the US.

Hammer Forum Germany:
www.hammer-forum.de/start.htm (in German only)
Providing healthcare for children, health education for mothers and medical evacuation of sick and injured children to Germany.

hwa.hilfswerk.at (in German only)
Austrian NGO. Construction and improvement of refugee camps, providing locally procured food aid, health care in refugee camps. Expanding into the education sector by rehabilitating school buildings, offering vocational training and setting up school feeding programs.

The International Rescue Committee:
One of the most experienced humanitarian and refugee aid organizations. Rehabilitating the water and sanitation system, improving living conditions in camps and temporary housing, providing psychosocial programs for children and youth as well as formal and informal education.

Islamic Relief:
UK-based charity with experience in Chechnya since 1995. Provides food aid, health care and improvements to the sanitary conditions in the IDP camps and prepares development projects in Chechnya.

Doctors without Borders:
www.msf.be (Belgian chapter)
www.artsenzondergrenzen.nl (Dutch chapter)
Providing primary health care, child health care and reproductive health care to IDPs and residents of Chechnya; treatment of tuberculosis patients; psychosocial counseling. and public health education campaigns.

Polish Humanitarian Organization (PHO):
In cooperation with UNICEF, PHO will provide clean water and water purification technology, improvement of sanitation and trash collection.
Go to www.allaboutgiving.org to make tax-deductible donations from the US (due to lower operational costs, PHO can "stretch your dollars").

People in Need:
Award-winning humanitarian organization based in the Czech Republic; active in Chechnya since 1999. Provides food aid, improvement of shelters and housing, basic healthcare for IDPs, education, school and hospital rehabilitation.

World Vision International:
Child-focused humanitarian aid organization. Provides basic health care for IDPs and their children, including psychosocial counseling. Operates a school-feeding program in the underserved mountain region that provides hot meals to 16,000 schoolchildren. Support and repair work for schools and kindergartens as well as school supplies.

Danish Refugee Council:
Strongest NGO presence in the region and main partner for the UN agencies. Provides humanitarian support for IDPs and returnees, as well as socio-economic reintegration programs and infrastructure improvements.

International Medical Corps: www.imcworldwide.org/index.shtml
US-based NGO that specializes in strengthening local healthcare institutions and training healthcare workers. Provides, through local medical professionals, much needed healthcare to IDP mothers and children and runs a tuberculosis program.

Etudes sans Frontieres (ESF):
This excellent Paris-based organization (literally "Studies without Borders") was founded by French student volunteers to help students from Grozny University study in France. Every year since 2003, a group of Chechen students is selected and embarks on a course of advanced studies at French universities and practical training, with the goal of acquiring the skills needed to rebuild their war-torn society. A volunteer-run organization, ESF is financed by foundations, companies and private donors and asks for your help to continue its great work.

New: UN Consolidated Appeal for 2005

The UN's humanitarian agencies have published their 2005 Consolidated Interagency Appeal for Chechnya, reporting on their past activies, describing future projects and soliciting donations for the coming year
Download the report Download Projects

MSF Report on public health in Chechnya

in August 2004, MSF/Doctors Without Borders published a quantitative report on living conditions, mental and physical health of displaced people in Chechnya and Ingushetia, based on extensive research conducted in the region.
Download the report

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