The main challenge for OCHA in the Russian Federation in 2005 was to create, together with humanitarian and development partners, a new framework for coordinated, strategic planning to fit the changing circumstances in Chechnya and its neighbouring republics. The humanitarian community entered the year determined to do more toward recovery assistance to address the root causes of vulnerability. The Russian government further requested that the 2005 CAP be the last, although it continued to welcome humanitarian assistance from the UN and NGOs. OCHA has offices in Moscow and Nazran, Ingushetia. The common interest of the humanitarian community and the government was to build, on the basis of established humanitarian coordination mechanisms, a broader, more flexible assistance framework.
The humanitarian situation in the North Caucasus, especially Chechnya, remained serious in 2005 despite some improvement on early 2004.What became increasingly apparent was that socioeconomic factors as well as human security problems were among the major causes of vulnerability. Therefore, the aims of the UN were broadened in 2005 to meeting humanitarian needs (which continued into 2006), while promoting and supporting domestic reconstruction and development activities in the North Caucasus.
- Improve humanitarian access and protection of civilians in the North Caucasus
- Strengthen humanitarian relief and emergency support
- Enhance information analysis and management linking humanitarian assistance to sustainable recovery and the rebuilding of livelihoods
OCHA continued to support effective humanitarian action through its facilitation of coordination meetings, advocacy and information sharing with all partners. The most important accomplishments in 2005 relate to humanitarian access, transitional planning, and capacity building in information management.
OCHA lobbied with UNDSS in favour of a Phase 4 designation for most of Chechnya in order to introduce UN staff presence in the republic and give adequate humanitarian coverage of the most vulnerable population. This advocacy and the interagency plan to eventually deploy UN staff, first local and eventually international, in Chechnya were consistent with the findings of a December 2004 Security Assessment Mission and the position of the UN Security Management Team. Access to vulnerable populations in neighbouring republics was unproblematic.
OCHA sponsored, organised and led a Protection of Civilians workshop in March 2005 in Nazran. It drew on expertise from OCHA and UNHCR headquarters, and enabled a lively and productive discussion of the key protection challenges among UN Agencies, NGOs, ICRC, the Russian government at federal and republic levels, and the diplomatic/ donor community.
Establishing a new Information Management Unit in OCHA, the Russian Federation helped OCHA to build new tools for coordination, assessment, service delivery and evaluation in the humanitarian operation, including a needs assessment library, WWW database, planning maps, etc. OCHA took a central role in transitional programming, facilitating the dialogue between traditional humanitarian partners and those more concerned with reconstruction/ development. In the spring, the HC led, jointly with the Russian government, a comprehensive all-stakeholders assessment of humanitarian need and review of the CAP. At the request of the Humanitarian Coordinator and UN Resident Coordinator, OCHA served as the “think tank” and secretariat for conceiving and producing the 2006 Inter-Agency Transitional Workplan for the North Caucasus.
The most important accomplishments in 2005 relate to humanitarian access, transitional planning, and capacity building in information management. Access to vulnerable populations in the North Caucasus improved in 2005, although not as much as was desired by OCHA and its humanitarian partners. Chechnya remained at UN Security Phase 5 throughout the year, yet the number of UN day missions into Chechnya climbed to a total of 99 in 2005, compared with 70 in 2004 and 26 in 2003. Besides leading missions in to Chechnya, OCHA managed the monthly planning for all UN missions into Chechnya, and thus helped realise this significant increase in access.
The protection of civilians workshop organized and led by OCHA gave inputs to the evolving Protection Strategy for the North Caucasus, including identification of potential partnerships for projects to strengthen local protection capacity.
Through the addition of information-management tools/skills, but also through effective coordination, the advances in information management began to produce results in terms of more nuanced needs assessment. Further, modifications to coordination mechanisms in Moscow and the North Caucasus increased participation by all partners. NGOs gained a stronger voice when eight of them formed a consortium, which was invited by the Humanitarian Coordinator to joinan IASC field team. Development agencies and government bodies became active parties to planning and material relief.
A strengthened North Caucasus sub-office allowed for deploying staff to Chechnya as soon as security clearance is given.
The information unit was not as productive as anticipated in 2005, but continued to produce monthly inter-agency situation reports and press packets, as well as assistance coverage maps and other information products. The unit will convene, and be the core of, an inter-agency Information Management Cell in 2006.
The process of developing an integrated humanitarian-recovery framework to replace the CAP stimulated development agencies and potential donors to take action. Republic-level governments in the North Caucasus engaged with the UN, NGOs, ICRC and donors on their recovery priorities. The Transitional Workplan, launched in December, set forth an US$ 88 million integrated programme for relief and recovery, to be conducted by nine UN Agencies and 13 NGOs.