February 6, 1995 in Nation/World

Chechen Refugees Burden Neighbor

Compiled From Wire Services

Refugees fleeing the war in Chechnya have caused a near crisis in neighboring Ingushetia, where the population has swelled by half, and more arrived Sunday in battered buses, packed cars and canvas-covered trucks.

About 10,000 people have been arriving in this Caucasus republic from Chechnya each week since Russian troops invaded the republic on Dec. 11 to suppress its claim to independence.

Some refugees have gone on to neighboring North Ossetia, Dagestan or elsewhere in Russia.

But most stay in tiny Ingushetia, crammed into emergency housing or squeezed into private homes and putting tremendous new strains on the already battered economy.

There are now more than 140,000 refugees, the majority of them from Chechnya, in addition to the 260,000 permanent residents. With an area of roughly 2,400 square miles, Ingushetia is only a third the size of Chechnya - slightly larger than the state of Delaware.

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