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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Seeks $32M in Aid For Chechen Refugees

Seven UN agencies launched a joint appeal to donor countries Tuesday for $32 million to cover humanitarian operations in the North Caucasus.

Funds raised are to be spent on legal protection, food, health, education, water and sanitation for 600,000 Chechen refugees, the UN's acting humanitarian affairs coordinator in Russia, Rosemary McCreery, told journalists Tuesday.

The United Nations plans to send 70 percent of the humanitarian aid to Chechnya, with the remainder going to 160,000 Chechen refugees in tent camps in neighboring Ingushetia.

"We respect the principle of the voluntary return of Chechen internally displaced people to their homes," said McCreery, adding that the Russian government shares these views.

Last year, the United Nations appealed for $42.5 million, and 90 percent was granted by the governments of the United States, Canada and countries of the European Union and Arab League. McCreery said the Russian government was not a donor but the largest contributor of humanitarian aid for Chechen refugees and in restoring Chechnya's economy.

McCreery said she had already presented the appeal to representatives of donor countries and was "extremely satisfied with donors' response." The security situation in the North Caucasus is a major constraint for moving the UN-led operation to the territory of Chechnya, McCreery said.

However, she said, UN agencies, together with the Chechen administration, are seeking a way to create a safe UN presence in Grozny.

Federal forces began a large-scale operation Tuesday to uncover weapons and ammunition caches in Grozny, Interfax reported.

Other large-scale special operations had already been under way in and near the republic's mountains for the past few days. Participants had been tasked with locating and neutralizing the main rebel leaders and cutting the channels through which the guerrillas receive financial support from abroad. They were also destroying bases that the rebels had prepared for winter.

About 50 people were detained on suspicion of rebel ties on Monday and Tuesday in the towns of Serzhen-Yurt, Chiri-Yurt, Noviye and Stariye Atagi and Zakan-Yurt, a Chechen government official said, and Itar-Tass reported that 21 rebels had been killed.

Defense Ministry units, interior troops and special services confiscated six machine guns, some 6,000 cartridges, grenades, mines and shells. In one house, 2,500 kilos of explosives were found.