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News Release


Release No: 109-95
March 06, 1995


In response to the White House's commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees from the civil war in Chechnya, Russian Federation, the Department is providing food, medical supplies and clothing to help alleviate the suffering in the region.

According to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs Patricia L. Irvin, the Department agreed to requests from the Department of State to make available 389,440 humanitarian daily rations (HDRs) and about 600 pallets of other surplus supplies for the refugees. The first flight carrying HDRs arrived in Chechnya last week.

The HDRs were picked up from the U.S. European Command's Leghorn Army Depot, Italy, and delivered on Department of State-sponsored commercial contract aircraft to Vladikavkaz and Makhachkala in Chechnya. The IL-76 aircraft belong to a private company based in Moscow. The World Food Program is receiving and distributing the HDRs.

The Department is also donating excess medical supplies, clothing and other assorted supplies to the refugees. Russian commercial aircraft are ferrying these items from Maastricht, Netherlands, to Vladikavkaz and Makhachkala. Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund and International Committee of the Red Cross are accepting the supplies and distributing them to various hospitals, clinics, refugee camps and orphanages in the neighboring Russian Republic of Dagestan.

Among the supplies destined for the refugees are surgical tape, bandages, cold weather blankets, hospital cots, intravenous injection sets, needle and syringe sets, surgical sponges, wheel chairs and other assorted medical items. The Department is also providing sleeping bags, sleeping mats, wind resistant coats and women's coats, denim trousers, undershirts and wool shirts. Airlifting of the excess supplies, valued at about $300,000, began February 23 and should be completed in about four weeks.

"The humanitarian daily rations are desperately needed by the Chechen people," Irvin said. "We designed HDRs specifically for emergency situations such as what we're witnessing in Chechnya. They are a nutritious, culturally sensitive and cost-effective ration that have saved many lives and drawn praise from the UN and the relief community."

The HDR was designed by the Department in 1993 for civilian use during humanitarian crises. Improved in 1994, it is a prepackaged, ready-to-eat food ration that provides an entire day's nutritional requirements. It was designed for use in emergency situations to feed and sustain moderately malnourished people until more traditional feeding methods are restored.

HDRs were first air-dropped in Bosnia on November 22, 1993, as part of the humanitarian relief effort PROVIDE PROMISE. The food packets since then have fed thousands of refugees in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Rwanda and even Haitian refugees at the Guantanamo Naval Base.

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