Keep options open for displaced Chechens urges UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

Ms. Jolie had travelled to the North Caucasus to learn about all aspects of UNHCR’s operations in the region. In Ingushetia, a republic bordering Chechnya, she visited Bella and Sputnik camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), where UNHCR has recently expressed concern that local authorities were putting pressure on some Chechen refugees to return home.”I frankly cannot see how the situation in Chechnya has changed to the extent that it now is safe for all IDPs to return,” she said last Sunday at a press conference in Moscow. Ms. Jolie’s comments came after meetings with many displaced Chechens who expressed fear that, without continued accommodation in Ingushetia, they would be forced to go back home.”I am grateful for the hospitality that the Republic of Ingushetia has extended to internally displaced persons, and I warmly welcome the assurances by President [Murat] Zyazikov that no displaced persons will be returned to Chechnya against their will,” Ms. Jolie stated.There are some 80,000 IDPs from Chechnya in Ingushetia. About 12,000 of them have been living in tented camps for the last four years.Ms. Jolie also visited a housing project for refugees in North Ossetia, a republic bordering Georgia. In Moscow, she met several families of asylum seekers and visited the Morozov children’s hospital where she donated $20,000. read more