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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Refugee Relief Efforts Slammed

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday criticized Russia's handling of a tide of refugees pouring out of Chechnya, saying relief efforts for the cold and hungry were inadequate.

At least 118,000 people have fled Chechnya since Moscow started a bombing and shelling campaign nearly two weeks ago, according to figures released by the Emergency Situations Ministry. More than 100,000 have streamed across Chechnya's western border and are sheltering in Ingushetia, whose 300,000 residents have ethnic ties with Chechens.

"According to our contacts, relief efforts for the displaced are inadequate to say the least," the New York-based rights group said in a statement released in Moscow. "The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations claims it is in control of the situation, but reliable reports of lack of shelter, warm clothing, food, medical care and the like are inconsistent with this claim."

A spokesman for the ministry said that relief efforts were under way, with five tent camps set up to accommodate the influx of refugees.

Human Rights Watch said the Russian government was violating its own laws by refusing the refugees the right to leave Ingushetia for other parts of the country. Ingushetia is the only region adjacent to Chechnya that is allowing refugees to enter with few restrictions.

The group also denounced a recent move by Moscow city authorities to oblige temporary residents to re-register with the police, saying this would affect hundreds of refugees from various former Soviet republics who had been living in the city for years.