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Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
February 29, 2000

Chechnya: U.S. Helps Fund Red Cross Efforts in North Caucasus Region

On February 29 the U.S. Government provided $2.4 million to support the activity of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) related to the conflict in Chechnya.

This contribution is in response to an ICRC emergency appeal to fund food, non-food, medical, water and sanitation needs, plus emergency winter assistance and rehabilitation programs to some 150,000 displaced persons affected by the conflict in Chechnya. The appeal also will fund activities by the ICRC in support of people at risk and detainees.

The U.S. Government is deeply concerned about the welfare of the nearly 200,000 people displaced by the conflict in Chechnya. The Russian government's military campaign in Chechnya is creating a cycle of violence with far-reaching humanitarian implications. Russia must also address the long-term social and economic issues that lie at the root of unrest in the North Caucasus.

Conditions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North Caucasus remain quite grim. Most have settled in the Russian Federation republic of Ingushetiya, but tens of thousands may be displaced inside Chechnya. Russia bears primary responsibility for addressing humanitarian needs created by the conflict in Chechnya and must ensure that all borders between Chechnya and neighboring regions remain open to displaced persons. Access to humanitarian assistance must not be limited or interrupted in order to coerce displaced persons to leave Ingushetiya.

The international community's efforts, primarily through ICRC and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are an important supplement to the humanitarian assistance the Russian Government must provide. The U.S. Government is especially grateful to ICRC and UNHCR for their courageous efforts in the North Caucasus. The international community looks to the Russian Government to cooperate with the international humanitarian assistance efforts, provide full access and security, and ensure freedom of movement for all IDPs.

[end of document]

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