Chechen refugees forced to return

Russian authorities have cut off water supplies to a refugee camp in Ingushetia, stepping up pressure on Chechen refugees to return to their homeland.

    Vladimir Putin launched the Chechen war four years ago

    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.

    SOURCE: AFP


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