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"Action by Churches Together" mission:  North Caucasus (2000-2001)

The work of the Action by Churches Together mission

The program Action by Churches Together - North Caucasus/ACT started its next stage in November 2000.

Commenced in 1995, it has been carried out for five years in Chechnya, the Stavropol region, Daghestan and North Ossetia. The program is implemented, under the aegis and with the support of the ACT, by the ROC in cooperation with the Hungarian Interchurch Aid/HIA. The Russian Orthodox Church is represented in it by the Round Table for Religious Education and Diaconia in the ROC. The task of the program is to give urgent aid to the most vulnerable displaced people from Chechnya - women, old people and children - both inside and outside the republic, who have no means of subsistence. Our Newsletter has regularly reported on the implementation of the program on its pages.

The present stage of the program covers the Stavropol regions, North Ossetia and Chechnya. It is carried out by its office in Piatigorsk, Stavrool region, in which representatives of the HIA, the ROC and local staff work together.

The program staff have been engaged in regular distribution of food packages in the Stavropol region, North Ossetia and in refugee camps in Chechnya, including those in the settlements of Znameskaya, Assinovskaya and Sernovodsk. Each package consists of 1 kilogram of flour, 1 liter of vegetable oil, 1 kilogram of sugar, 1 kilogram of buckwheat, as well as thickened milk and tea. For the last three months, 18.020 packages have been distributed. The distribution has been carried out in close cooperation with the migration services, social security bodies, local authorities and with commandants' offices in case of Chechnya.

The next stage will be to distribute humanitarian aid cargo which is to come from the Lutheran World Federation, USA. It contains women's and men's second-hand clothes, quilts, school and sanitary packages, as well as baby's packages. The cargo will be distributed to 18.000 people in the Stavropol region.

It is important to note that Action by Churches Together - North Caucasus is the only international program that works on a regular basis in the Stavropol region where 80% percent of the displaced are Russian-speaking and Orthodox people. It is also the only organization that works on a regular basis in the Northern Chechnya which has become a major place of the concentration of the displaced in the republic. Other international non-governmental organizations have actually ignored this area, probably believing that giving aid to people in the territories traditionally loyal to the federal center is not a priority for them.

Moreover, the program has repeatedly drawn the attention of its partners abroad from among international Christian agencies and international non-governmental organizations, as well as the UN and OSCE structures to the necessity to give aid to all the displaced who need it, not only to Chechens in Ingushetia and the central and southern parts of Chechnya.

It should be stated that the balanced approach, transparence and professionalism of the work, which has made it possible to establish and maintain cooperation with Muslim leaders and local authorities, as well as the indisputable authority it enjoyed among the foreign humanitarian organizations present in Ingushetia, have helped to enhance the authority of the Church in the difficult situation that has developed in North Caucasus.

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