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.