Thursday, 23 February 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
53. Mr. Callely asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the crisis in Chechnya; the action, if any, he intends to take to prevent more killing and suffering; and if he will make a statement on the matter.[4242/95]
A ceasefire between the two sides, agreed at the beginning of last week, expired on Sunday night and was not extended. The ceasefire had provided for the non-use of heavy weapons, which have been responsible for most of the destruction and loss of life. While there were reported violations by both sides, the ceasefire, although fragile, had reduced the fighting and provided a window of opportunity to pursue negotiations for a solution. The non-extension of the ceasefire is a serious setback in this regard.
However, efforts to involve the OSCE constructively in the resolution of the crisis are continuing. Following  his visit to the region at the end of January arrangements are now being made for a second visit by Ambassador Gyarmati, the personal representative of the OSCE Chairman in Office.
From the outset, Ireland has been working both bilaterally and together with our EU partners to make it unequivocally clear to Russia that its handling of the Chechnya crisis and the consequent violation of human rights are unacceptable; to promote a ceasefire and a negotiated solution through the involvement of OSCE; and to bring about the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid.
The Government responded quickly to the needs of the victims of the war and we are willing to extend further humanitarian assistance. Ireland has provided grants totalling £150,000 to the ICRC which is delivering humanitarian assistance in Chechnya and visiting prisoners on boths sides. Also 10.31 million ECU has been contributed by the EU to the ICRC since late December for the  supply and distribution of food, basic medical supplies, shelter and clothing.
In addition to the 250,000 people who are being assisted by the ICRC a further 175,000 persons have fled to neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan where they are being helped by the UNHCR. I have decided to allocate £75,000 from the Humanitarian Assistance Fund to the UNHCR to help with these refugees. Next week I will be meeting with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva to discuss with her any other way in which Ireland can be of assistance in the humanitarian crisis.
Since 24 January, my Department, at my direction, has strongly underlined our concerns on the situation in Chechnya to the Russian Ambassador in Dublin.In addition, our representative to the OSCE has made our views clear in the OSCE Permanent Council and directly to the Russian OSCE Head of Delegation.
It is essential that we maintain our efforts, both bilaterally and through the relevant international fora, to bring an  end to the fighting, promote a negotiated solution and address the serious human rights situation in Chechnya. In this regard, I intend to raise the issue of Chechnya at the UN Commission on Human Rights during my visit to that organisation on Monday next.
It is of the utmost importance both for the people of Chechnya and for the stability of the region as a whole that this crisis is brought to an end at the earliest possible date. Ireland will continue to work as constructively as possible, both bilaterally and with our EU partners, to achieve this aim.
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