Friday's measure followed a similar move two days earlier that saw electricity cut to the Bella camp, home to around 1000 refugees.

"Officials came and showed us a paper ordering the water to be cut," one of the refugees, Aslan, said.

"They say they're not planning to force us to return, but this comes to the same thing." 

NGO ban

Pro-Russian authorities in Chechnya have announced on several occasions that the tent cities in neighbouring Ingushetia, which house 10,000 refugees who fled the war, will be closed by 1 October.

Relief agencies have voiced concern this could mean a forced return of refugees by the Russian authorities, particularly since migrations officials barred NGOs from entering the Bella camp and the adjoining Bart and Sputnik camps.

Leila Djeitova, who heads the Ingush NGO for aid to refugees Vesta, denounced "a situation in which the authorities say one thing and do another".

Another NGO official, who did not want to be named, said the water and power cuts and the bar on NGO access were designed to force the refugees to return to Chechnya.

"They are left with no other alternative, as nothing is done to enable them to stay in Ingushetia," the official said.