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Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on whether the closure, by Russian authorities, of internally displaced persons camps in Ingushetia has stopped following President Putin's statement on 10 December 2002; and what (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral action the UK Government are taking to press for an end to this closure. [112160]

We are not aware of any camp closures in Ingushetia since President Putin's order that this practice should be stopped. Nevertheless, we have continued to remind the Russian authorities of their assurances that all movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) would be strictly voluntary and of their obligations under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. We last did so bilaterally in March and the EU took similar action in mid-April at the EU-Russia Co-operation Council.However, we are concerned by recent reports that the Ingush authorities have ordered the demolition of shelters built for IDPs currently living in dilapidated tent camps. We are monitoring the situation closely and would welcome a positive outcome to the negotiations between the Ingush Government and the humanitarian agencies involved.