Russian Federation: IDPs increasingly neglected despite continuing needs
Bamut, Chechnya. The two Chechen conflicts have all but destroyed the village, leaving 73 households instead of 1,914. The village water tank is in a mine-affected area but thanks to the ICRC, residents can now access water next to the local school. (Photo: ICRC/Marko KOKIC, October 2012)
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31 December 2012
At least 29,000 people were internally displaced in Russia as of the end of 2012. Conflict, human rights violations and generalised violence in Chechnya and North Ossetia forced people to flee their homes between 1992 and the early 2000s. In 1992, up to 64,000 people were displaced during an inter-ethnic conflict between Ossetians and Ingush over Prigorodny district in North Ossetia. More than 800,000 people were affected by wars in Chechnya in 1994 and 1999, pitting Russian forces against Chechen separatists seeking independence. Moscow has declared both conflicts resolved, but their causes and consequences have yet to be fully addressed.
The conflict in Chechnya has transformed over time, with jihad-inspired insurgents now leading the revolt. Insecurity, violence and human rights abuses by both insurgents and law enforcement authorities continued with impunity throughout North Caucasus in 2012, and rebel activity even spread to the Volga region late in the year. The federal government considers the continuing instability a result of the poor economic situation, and has tried to stabilise the region by funding development initiatives.
Such projects, however, contain no special measures to address IDPs' outstanding needs related to their displacement.
The Russian authorities have made efforts to assist those forcibly displaced in North Caucasus. Their interventions have improved the lives of many IDPs, but a considerable number still do not fully enjoy their rights, in some cases up to 20 years after their displacement. Ongoing concerns include persistent insecurity; insufficient access to adequate housing, jobs and documentation; ineffective property compensation mechanisms and continuing obstacles to return and local integration. Some IDPs have become more vulnerable over time, and most survive on social benefits and temporary work.
More than 300,000 people have returned to Chechnya and many would prefer to settle in the capital, in order to access the few economic opportunities that exist in the republic. The Grozny authorities, however, prioritise IDPs who were previously residents of the city and exclude others, whom they believe should return to their original villages. Permanent housing assistance, for example, is only available to those registered as Grozny residents. Some of those not registered continue to live in 11 remaining hostels, which were temporary housing solutions provided by the government. One group managed to privatise their hostel living space in 2012, but others continue to live in such accommodation without contracts and so are vulnerable
to eviction. The pace of evictions slowed significantly in 2012, but the risk remained.
In Ingushetia, the condition of temporary housing the government originally provided to IDPs in 1999 remained extremely precarious. Eleven internally displaced families went on hunger strike in protest in 2012. The authorities had served them eviction notices and offered rental payments, but the families demanded funds to acquire adequate housing. They were unable to return because their housing was destroyed or occupied as a result of the conflict, they had not received sufficient compensation and they were unable to improve their situation on their own. The strike ended after three days when Ingushetia's minister of nationalities agreed to take their appeal on board, but as of the end of the year their situation had not changed.
The Council of Europe adopted a report in 2012 on the situation of IDPs and returnees in North Caucasus. Its recommendations included legislation that incorporates the Guiding Principles, a survey to identify IDPs and the issues they face, the creation of jobs for IDPs and the building of more social housing. The council highlighted corruption in the region and recommended the government increase the transparency and oversight of budgetary spending. UN agencies left the North Caucasus in 2011, but ICRC and a number of international NGOs run programmes to assist the region's IDPs.
The Russian authorities' efforts to improve IDPs' situation in North Caucasus include property compensation, and the establishment of the Kadyrov Fund and Chechen legal bureaus, but more needs to be done to help them achieve the durable solution of their choice. The housing programme in Ingushetia for 1,500 internally displaced families from Chechnya should be fully funded without further delay. This also entails improved data and information collection, targeted programmes to address IDPs' specific needs, better communication and consultation with IDPs and greater efforts towards achieving a lasting peace in the region.
16 July 2009: IDMC dismayed by murder of human rights advocate
IDMC is shocked and saddened by the abduction and murder
of Natalia Estemirova in Chechnya. She was kidnapped close to her home in Grozny on 15 July and her body was found later that day in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia. Ms. Estemirova was a tireless human rights advocate
with the NGO Memorial
in Chechnya, and also worked with IDPs in Chechnya, advocating for durable solutions to their plight.
More than 14 years after they first fled their homes, at least 29 ,000 people are still internally displaced due to armed conflict and violence in the North Caucasus, and an unknown number of people are still displaced elsewhere in Russia .
Displacement induced by the threat and impact of natural hazards, especially floods and wild fires, continues to be significant in Russia. Though information on such displacement and the current situation of these IDPs is scarce.
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14 March 2013
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Internal Displacement Profile
"Резюме профиля на русском языке","Россия: усилия правительства помогут только некоторым ВПЛ восстановить свою жизнь"
"Causes and Background","The conflicts in Chechnya","The conflict in North Ossetia","Other causes of displacement in the Russian Federation"
"Population Figures and Profile","Global figures","Population figures: displacement as a result of conflict in Chechnya","Population figures: displacement as a result of the conflict in North Ossetia"
"Patterns of Displacement","General"
"Physical Security & Freedom of Movement","Physical safety in Chechnya","Physical safety in other areas of North Caucasus","Rule of law","Discrimination","Freedom of movement"
"Subsistence Needs","Food","Shelter and non-food items","Health","Water and sanitation"
"Subsistence Needs","Food","Shelter and non-food items","Health","Water and sanitation","Infrastructure"
"Access to Education","North Caucasus","Other areas"
"Issues of Self-Reliance and Public Participation","Self-reliance","Access to courts"
"Issues of Self-Reliance and Public Participation","Self-reliance","Participation","Access to courts"
"Documentation Needs and Citizenship","Documentation needs"
"Issues of Family Unity, Identity and Culture","Family unity"
"Patterns of Return and Resettlement","Return to Chechnya","Return to North-Ossetia","Resettlement"
"Humanitarian Access","Access to North Caucasus"
"National and International Responses","National response","Legal background","NGO response","International response","References to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement"
Previous Profile updates
- Key Documents
- Europe’s forgotten people: protecting the human rights of long-term displaced persons , Doc. 11942, Council of Europe (COE), Parliamentary Assembly, 8 June 2009
- The Ingush-Ossetian conflict in the Prigorodnyi region, Human Rights Watch (HRW), 31 May 1996
- Struggling to Integrate: Displaced people from Chechnya living in other areas of the Russian Federation, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 30 June 2008
- A review of DRC's protection and livelihoods programme in Chechnya, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), 28 February 2009
- Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, Francis M. Deng, Addendum, Profiles in displacement: The Russian Federation, E/CN.4/2004/77/Add.2, United Nations Commission on Human Rights (CHR), 24 February 2004
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