Army first with Chechnya relief
With the conclusion of armed hostlilities, The Salvation Army has been told by Chechen Republic officials that it is the first agency to be allowed into Chechnya itself to deliver food packages for over 2,500 children.
The invitation came from First Deputy Illyevitch Deniev from the temporary administration of the Chechen Republic, with Letchi Gidizov, in charge of IDP’s (Internationally Displaced Persons) saying that The Salvation Army was he first agency to take aid there. He expressed his willingness to help the Army’s efforts. Representatives from the Christian organization were accompanied into Chech-nya by Mr. Deniev, the Commandant for the Grozny region, representatives from EMERCON (Russian Ministry for Emergencies) and federal troops.
Three successful trips have been made by The Salvation Army since March 2, including one to the Chechen capital Grozny, where a doctor at the First City Hospital said no organization had entered the capital city with aid since the beginning of the hostilities.
“This is a major breakthrough in our relief effort which has allowed us to reach people who have yet to receive any external aid,” said Captain Geoff Ryan, coordinator of The Salvation Army’s relief efforts. “We have begun the registration and distribution of aid both to refugees and the local population in the town of Tolstoy-Yurt, before moving on to the capital. In Grozny itself we saw very few people–just a few elderly. We have received an official pass through the Mayor’s office to distribute aid, even though the city is officially closed.
Two truckloads of supplies have been distributed in the villages of Stary Athai, Chechen Aoal, Dekala, and Prigorodomy. Two teams will be established in Chechnya to undertake regular food distribution, and permanent warehouse space will be sought to store aid shipments arriving in the area.
One hundred thousand dollars a month is already needed to feed and care for the refugees who have left Chechnya and are in temporary camps in neighboring Ingushetia. The Salvation Army has been working among refugees there since December and is the only aid agency exclusively addressing the needs of children and babies by providing baby foods and breast milk replacement formula. Children in the hospital there are still suffering from TB, malnutrition or war-inflicted injuries.
The normal population of The Republic of Ingushetia is 300,000 and it is struggling to cope, since that number has nearly doubled with the arrival of refugees. Salvation Army workers have already distributed nearly 70,000 units of supplementary food, including baby formula, oatmeal porridge, baby rice, baby millet, canned fruits and bottled juices.
Donations to The Salvation Army’s Chechnya appeal can be made through a local Salvation Army unit, online at www.salvationarmy.usawest.org/ or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
–from a United Kingdom Territory
news release by Sarah Miller