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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thousands Flee Daily to Ingushetia

Frightened by the latest security sweeps in Chechnya, nearly 2,000 refugees entered neighboring Ingushetia over the past 24 hours, the local office of the Nationalities and Migration Ministry said Monday.

According to ministry data, reported by Interfax, most of the 1,892 Chechen refugees who entered Ingushetia came from three villages, including Sernovodsk, where federal troops have been accused of beating civilians and looting homes during security checks. The report said 1,722 refugees left Ingushetia over the same period.

The latest ministry data has put the number of refugees in Ingushetia at 180,000 — equivalent to nearly 60 percent of the tiny republic's own population of 310,000. Federal officials stopped registering refugees in April, leaving the official figure at 150,000.

Ingush President Ruslan Aushev has accused the federal government of ignoring or exacerbating the refugee crisis. "Obviously, it is done to push people back to Chechnya," Aushev said in remarks carried by Interfax.

Ingushetia officials have complained that federal funding for the camps has dried up and refugees survive thanks only to international humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, the number of refugees on a hunger strike in Ingushetia has reached 74. The protest was begun June 14 in an attempt to persuade federal authorities to withdraw troops from Chechnya and start peace talks with rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov.

Twenty-six strike participants, including six children, have been hospitalized since the strike began, Ruslan Badalov, head of Union of Refugees in Ingushetia, said by telephone Monday. Two people are hospitalized now. Badalov added that newcomers regularly join the strike.

"I see no big catastrophe there," Viktor Kazantsev, presidential envoy in the Southern Federal District, said on ORT earlier this month. "The strikers fast during the day, but they eat at night."