The Trauma of Ongoing Conflict and Displacement in Chechnya: Quantitative Assessment of Living Conditions, and Psychosocial and General Health Status Among War Displaced in Chechnya and Ingushetia.
Authorsde Jong, K
van der Kam, S
van Oosten, R
AffiliationMédecins Sans Frontières, Plantage Middenlaan 14, 1018 DD Amsterdam, The Netherlands. email@example.com.
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JournalConflict and Health
AbstractABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Conflict in Chechnya has resulted in over a decade of violence, human rights abuses, criminality and poverty, and a steady flow of displaced seeking refuge throughout the region. At the beginning of 2004 MSF undertook quantitative surveys among the displaced populations in Chechnya and neighbouring Ingushetia. METHODS: Surveys were carried out in Ingushetia (January 2004) and Chechnya (February 2004) through systematic sampling. Various conflict-related factors contributing to ill health were researched to obtain information on displacement history, living conditions, and psychosocial and general health status. RESULTS: The average length of displacement was five years. Conditions in both locations were poor, and people in both locations indicated food shortages (Chechnya (C): 13.3%, Ingushetia (I): 11.3%), and there was a high degree of dependency on outside help (C: 95.4%, I: 94.3%). Most people (C: 94%, I: 98%) were confronted with violence in the past. Many respondents had witnessed the killing of people (C: 22.7%, I: 24.1%) and nearly half of people interviewed witnessed arrests (C: 53.1%, I: 48.4%) and maltreatment (C: 56.2%, I: 44.5%). Approximately one third of those interviewed had directly experienced war-related violence. A substantial number of people interviewed - one third in Ingushetia (37.5%) and two-thirds in Chechnya (66.8%) - rarely felt safe. The violence was ongoing, with respondents reporting violence in the month before the survey (C: 12.5%, I: 4.6%). Results of the general health questionnaire (GHQ 28) showed that nearly all internally displaced persons interviewed were suffering from health complaints such as somatic complaints, anxiety/insomnia, depressive feelings or social dysfunction (C: 201, 78.5%, CI: 73.0% - 83.4%; I: 230, 81.3%, CI: 76.2% - 85.6%). Poor health status was reflected in other survey questions, but health services were difficult to access for around half the population (C: 54.3%, I: 46.6%). DISCUSSION: The study demonstrates that the health needs of internally displaced in both locations are similarly high and equally unaddressed. The high levels of past confrontation with violence and ongoing exposure in both locations is likely to contribute to a further deterioration of the health status of internally displaced. As of March 2007, concerns remain about how the return process is being managed by the authorities.