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Chechen Refugees Demand to be Transferred to a Third Country

04.05.2005
Chechen Refugees Demand to be Transferred to a Third Country


Chechen refugees living in Pankisi are dissatisfied with the activities of the UNHCR in Georgia and they have demanded an investigation of its activities. According to them they live in unbearable conditions, and if Georgia cannot ensure proper living conditions for them then they have asked to be able to move to a third country.

The Coordination Council of the Chechen refugees in Georgia held a briefing on 28 April, where they declared that there is no potential for them to continue living in Georgia. According to official data, the Chechen refugees that currently reside in Georgia comprise 2.5 thousand people, but this includes people of all ethnicities who have Chechen citizenship. Only 486 ethnic Chechens live in Georgia, which amounts to 142 families.

Chechen refugees said that in spite of the kind attitude of the Georgian side, their conditions have continued to worsen. They are not happy with the way the UNHCR operates in Georgia and they demand that the organization’s activities be investigated by the international community. According to the refugees, the UNHCR does not do anything to help them or to improve their situation. Refugees say that their living conditions are unbearable – that there is no united single placement policy, and that the nutrition problem is also very pressing since they are not sufficiently provided with food. This is corroborated by the fact that Khedi Borchashvili, a Chechen schoolgirl of school No. 64 fainted because of malnutrition, an incident that her teachers have confirmed. The Council members claim that the provision of humanitarian assistance to them is neither timely nor organized, and what is provided is passed the best-before date and not fit to eat. Medical assistance also does not function properly and due to this the death of patients is not infrequent. There are no children’s programs and the young people get practically no education.

Because of all of these problems, the Chechen refugees wish that the emigration policy be changed and that priority be given to the above-mentioned 500 people.  This priority is necessary because they suspect that other people who somehow manage to get on the list benefit from the emigration policies, instead of the refugees with the most need. Refugees also ask to be moved away from the Pankisi region, a move for which they have several reasons. One main reason is the fact of the region’s close proximity to the Russian border, which makes them very anxious. Besides this, no information is available to refugees living in Pankisi and thus they are in an information vacuum.

Chechen refugees demand that if getting these 500 people to a third country is not possible then they should be given proper living conditions in Georgia. The refugees also want the Georgian government to stop extraditing Chechens to Russian, and to start regulating the problems of their entering and leaving the country.  One of the requirements of the refugees is that they be allowed the opportunity to become employed in Georgia. Members of the Coordination Council consider it important to hold a round table on the topic ‘Problems of the Chechen refugees and the activities of UNHCR and their role in solving them’.

If these requests and requirements are ignored, the members of the Coordination Council, including Maka Khanchukaeva (Director of the Committee Against the Violence of Women in Chechnya) Abdulla Tesaev (Director International Committee on Chechen Refugees) Seipuddi Elenbaev (Head of the Committee of Chechen refugees), and Said Madaev (Director of NGO Bart) intend to go on a hunger strike and perform other kinds of protests. 


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