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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 15:42 GMT
Surviving the Chechen war
Chechen refugees in Ingushetia
Chechen women gather in a refugee camp in Ingushetia
By Steve Rosenberg in Ingushetia

The Bela refugee camp, is one of five sprawling refugee camps at the foot of the hills on the outskirts of Nazran.

There are hundreds of tents spreading out across the barren landscape, home to thousands of refugees from Chechnya.

This camp has been here for nearly a year now, and as you walk along the rows of tents, you might be forgiven for thinking that life here was approaching some kind of normality.

Chickens and hens hover outside doorways.

There are market stalls selling vegetables, bread and sweets. There is even a television repair tent.

But that is where normality ends, and reality begins.

Inside some of the tents up to a dozen people are crammed together.

Disease is common in the camp. Many of the tents have holes in the roof, allowing the rainwater to gush in.

Feeling forgotten

People here are dreading the onset of winter.

But even worse for those who fled the fighting in Chechnya and have taken shelter here is the feeling that their plight has been completely forgotten by the outside world
Chechen women washing clothes
Families are forced to live in tents with few facilities
- a world too busy fighting Osama Bin Laden and the ogre of international terrorism to worry about defending them.

There is a deep feeling of disappointment here, of disillusionment with the West for striking up a close friendship with Moscow. A disbelief even that the West could ever equate to Russia's struggle against Chechen militants with its own war on terror.

One woman here told me President Bush had betrayed the Chechen people - all we want, she said, is for Russian troops to leave our land so that we can return home and live in peace.


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25 Nov 01 | Media reports
18 Nov 01 | Europe
15 Nov 01 | Europe
28 Sep 01 | Europe
06 Sep 01 | Europe
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