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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Aid Group Assists Refugees

UNITED NATIONS -- The UN refugee agency rushed blankets, makeshift shelters and cooking equipment to Chechen refugees Thursday as a growing number of people fled fighting in their separatist Russian republic.

More than 23,000 Chechens have streamed into the neighboring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan in the past two weeks -- 5,000 of them in the past day, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said.

Thursday's surge followed a Russian army commander's threat to launch an all-out attack on the Chechen capital Grozny. But security chief Alexander Lebed hastily negotiated a cease-fire to take effect Friday.

Anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 civilians remained in the destroyed city, which had a prewar population of 400,000. Chechen refugees in the two neighboring republics now number more than 100,000, the UN agency said.

Tent communities have sprouted in the Ingushetian cities of Aki-Yurt and Sernovodsk to house those who haven't found shelter with friends and family.

A UNHCR flight from Belgium was to arrive in the region Friday with an emergency shipment of blankets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and kitchen sets.

Two trucks with more supplies were to arrive in about 10 days.