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"Action by Churches Together" mission:  North Caucasus (spring 2003)

Aid to victims of floods in North Caucasus

The Action by Churches Together mission has continued its programs for North Caucasus in 2003. The Newsletter of the Round Table informed its readers about its work to give aid to IDPs from Chechnya in the period from 1995 to 2002 and to victims of the floods in North Caucasus in 2002. The program was organized under the auspices of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations with support from the Action by Churches Together international Christian organization and has been carried out by the Russia Round Table.

Another stage of this program for North Caucasus began in December 2002 when relief was brought to victims of the disastrous floods that hit that region in summer 2002. The task of that stage was to give aid in restoring houses and farms to the most needy victims including the elderly, disabled, large families and IDPs. To meet their most urgent needs, the aid had to be manifold: giving them help in reconstructing their houses, providing them with basic household utensils, organizing sewing workshops for them to make their clothes and restoring their adjoining farms, which for many are the primary means of subsistence.

By May 2003, the construction materials necessary for restoring houses were distributed to 372 families at Predgorny district in Stavropol Region, Mozdok district in North Ossetia and Nadterechny district in Chechnya. At present, the mission continues distributing 3.966 farming packages consisting of the seeds of 22 crops and fertilizers and 1.027 household packages consisting of blankets, bed linen, towels and tableware. The distribution has been organized in the most affected areas in the Stavropol Region and the Republics of Cherkessia, North Ossetia and Chechnya.

Small social sewing workshops will be opened in the nearest future. Victims themselves will work in them, producing clothes and ready-made garments for themselves. The workshops will be set up in facilities provided by the local authorities.

Judging by responses coming from benefactors, the aid given through the program has become a weighty support for them in their difficult situation because the limited means they had in their possession, including small and not yet universally paid out governmental compensations, are insufficient for making up for the damage done to their houses, property and farms.

The distribution of aid has been carried out with the help of parishes in the North Caucasus dioceses, Emergency Ministry and regional administrations who have used lists prepared together with local social security bodies.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its meeting on May 7, 2003, considered the implementation of the program for humanitarian aid to victims of the floods, expressed gratitude for it and deemed it desirable to continue the aid effort.

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