Blairwatch has a confidential correspondent inside Georgia, who sent us the following report, mainly focusing on the humanitarian crisis. We will shortly have another report and photos from Gori
When the USSR fell, 1 civilian war and 2 wars – in districts of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Osetia began. As a result we have 247,000 IDP’s ( refugees) from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Unfortunately before the conflict and at the moment, the economic situation in Georgia is very bad: unemployment is running at 50%; the average monthly pension is 45 US.
Pr. Saakashvili was not a popular president in Georgia until the conflict started. With the conflict the Georgian nation united and forgot all the other problems.
The Russia-Georgia conflict has transformed the contemporary geopolitical world, with large consequences for peace and security in Europe and beyond. We feel that we are not alone and supported by the EU and USA , that gives us the hope of future.
Russian tanks went trough the Abkhazia to Georgia and took control over the western part of Georgia. The other part of Russian army went from South Ossetia to Gori 60 km from Tbilisi. They were bombing different cities in Georgia . With Russian army came the Kazaks and Ossetians , they started robbing the shops and later the apartments and private houses of inhabitants of Gori and the villages around. One day the panic started in Tbilisi everybody thought that the Russians will take the capital.
We received the new wave of refuges in Georgia due to this conflict. Many thousands of Georgians left Gori, Georgian villages around South Ossetia and cities in the western part of Georgia to escape from the bombing and war. Many of them lost their homes (they were destroyed by bombings). They all come to Tbilisi and the eastern part of Georgia. The Georgian government tried to accommodate them, but there are too many of them and there is no place for all. Especially since many of the state building were already engaged by the previous line of refugees in the beginning of 1990’s . There was no exact figures for the new wave of refugees , according to some officials there were 120 thousand , others were saying 118 thousand. That is a real humanitarian disaster; many of them do not have enough food, medication, clothes.
Many of the schools, preschools, polyclinics and state buildings have become refugee centres. I have visited a few such centres. The situation in some of them is fairly difficult.. Many of the refugees live in the empty rooms sleeping on the mattresses right on the floor, tables or desks. Many of them do not know where their relatives are and if they are alive.
The problem is that the aid which is given to refugees is not equal as well as the quality and quantity. Some collective centres have mattresses, blankets and even kind of military bags others have only mattresses. The similar situation applies to food . In some places the food is delivered once a day in the others twice a day. Some collective centres receive only military packages of dry food, which is only suitable for a short time.
The situation in Georgia is still fairly difficult. The Russian army left Gori and the road from western part to eastern part of Georgia is open now, but Russians opened a few check points in the western part of Georgia and they control they feel themselves free in the city Zugdidi near the board with Abkhazia (10 km) and have big check point with military vehicles and tanks at the seaport Poti.
10 NATO military vessels came to the Black sea to support Georgia.
During the conflict Angela Merkel, Sarkozi and presidents of 5 Eastern European countries came to Georgia ,that has helped to sing a cease-fire. The Foreign ministers of different Western European countries visited Georgia during the conflict helping to resolve it.
Unfortunately many people from Georgian Side are missing especially among the soldiers. The parents of soldiers are trying to get the information about the location of their missing children, but cannot get the answers . Many of dead Georgians were buried in the common graves, and now it will be difficult to recognize them. Unofficially there are more than 2000 of dead from Georgia side. Though our officials say that the number of dead does not exceed 200.
For now some of the refugees ( who were from Gori) have returned. Those ones who lived near the South Ossetia, cannot return and do not know when they will go back. Some homes are destroyed or burned, due to this many of them cannot return even to Gori.
Some of the aid which is coming to Georgia from USA and other International organisations now is kept at the warehouses, in case of the conflict continues.
Russia confirmed the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In return Georgia had stopped the diplomatic relationship with Russia and called the ambassador back to Georgia, Though the consular department still works.
In Tbilisi everything is quiet now. There is no panic shops and banks are working.