18 September 2003, 10:59
Ilyasov will "invite Chechen refugees to return home"
The first batch of Chechen refugees, who are now living in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, will be able to return home in late September-early October, according to Stanislav Ilyasov, Russian Minister for Chechnya's Affairs. While addressing reporters on Wednesday, the minister said he planned to visit Pankisi in autumn to meet the refugees and invite them to return to Chechnya.
Mr. Ilyasov reported on two Emergencies Ministry aircrafts that will deliver humanitarian aid for Chechens temporarily living in Pankisi.
"The first batch of Chechens who will want to return home will be able to take those aircrafts," the minister said.
Temporary housing that can accommodate 1,000 people has been prepared for them in Sernovodsk in Ingushetia.
Administration officials of a number of Chechen districts and cities are expected to visit the Pankisi Gorge next week, according to Mr. Ilyasov. "They will meet the refugees and tell them what is going on in their republic today." As of July 2003, Pankisi was home to 3,700 Chechen refugees, while latest reports say there are about 2,000 Chechens there, said Mr. Ilyasov. They are mainly residents of Grozny and of the republic's mountainous areas, he added.
Source: RIA Novosti