Caritas responds to conflict in Georgia
18 August 2008
Georgian villagers leave their houses near the city of Tskhinvali, about 100 km (62 miles) from Tbilisi.
Conflict between Georgia and Russia over breakaway South Ossetia has killed thousands of people and tens of thousands have been driven from their homes.
Caritas is responding in the region with food, household items, and counselling to those people caught in the fighting
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight said, “Russia and Georgia must step back from all out war. Already the conflict has caused too much suffering to thousands of innocent civilians. It will take a huge regional effort to rebuild shattered communities.
“Caritas appeals to both sides to do everything in their power to respect the lives of civilians. Caritas supports the need for humanitarian corridors into South Ossetia as a short term solution, but peace talks must take place now.
”Both sides must respect the rights of ethnic minorities to avoid a further escalation in the conflict.”
Caritas Georgia is providing food to people who have fled the conflict. Caritas Georgia is also seeking to provide medical help to the large number of casualties as hospitals in the capital Tbilisi face becoming overwhelmed.
Caritas Georgia Programme Manager Liana Mkheidze said that providing food and medical help is the priority. She said, “Many people are coming to Tbilisi from Georgian villages around Tskinvali and the also from Gori. Their houses have been damaged and they’re escaping the bombardment.
“Caritas Georgia distributed 1920 small cans of tuna-fish and 420 cans of canned meat together with 500 loaves of freshly baked bread from its own bakery. We are preparing to distribute more bread and preparing food at our soup-kitchen if necessary to provide food to those made homeless.
Local Caritas Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia says shelter for refugees is the priority.
Director of Caritas Vladikavkaz Sergey Basiev said, “There are lots of refugees seeking shelter. They have nothing. The situation is dreadful. We will try to meet these urgent needs.”
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