Agencies mobilise for Georgia relief | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 13, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 13, 2008

Agencies mobilise for Georgia relief

Foreigners fly home

A picture taken on Monday shows local residents fleeing as South Ossetian separatist troops engage Georgian soldiers in the South Ossetia town of Kurta.Photo: AFP

Aid agencies mobilised yesterday to help an estimated 100,000 Georgians displaced by the fighting, as foreigners evacuated from the country flew into Paris with tales of the devastation.
A first flight from the UN's refugee agency landed in Tbilisi airport Tuesday carrying tents, jerry cans, blankets and kitchen equipment, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.
A second was due to fly out from Copenhagen on Wednesday, he added.
Combined, that meant an extra 70 tonnes of supplies for up to 30,000 people, to supplement material already distributed from UNHCR warehouses in Georgia.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said a plane with 15 tonnes of medical supplies and material to support water distribution was due to arrive in Tbilisi Tuesday.
ICRC spokeswoman Anna Nelson said they had also been asked to help about 1,500 people in the breakaway region of Abkhazia, western Georgia.
The UN World Food Programme in Tbilisi said they had distributed food to 2,000 displaced people, but said the numbers arriving in the Georgian capital were rising.
In all, nearly 100,000 people had been forced to flee their homes because of the conflict, according to the UNHCR.
The figures, supplied by Georgia and Russia, suggested that some 30,000 South Ossetians had moved into North Ossetia, where the UNCHR said it was ready to help the Russian authorities. Another 12,000 displaced were inside South Ossetia itself.
A few thousand had moved south from South Ossetia into Georgia proper, while 56,000 people from the Gori region in Georgia -- 80 percent of the local population -- had also fled the fighting, most heading towards Tbilisi.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres meanwhile approved the release of two million dollars (1.3 million euros) in emergency aid.
On Monday, Washington made 250,000 dollars available to Georgia for emergency relief. The European Union announced 1.5 million dollars in aid to civilians on Sunday.
In Paris meanwhile some 170 French tourists and 91 other foreign nationals evacuated from Georgia touched down at Charles De Gaulle airport, speaking of a climate of "fear" in the capital Tbilisi.
"The atmosphere in Tbilisi is very heavy. People feel alone, they are afraid," said Alain Noel, 39, dark lines under his eyes, who was evacuated with his nine-month old baby.
"In Gori I saw people fleeing, I saw holes from the bombing," said 24-year-old law student Nicolas Papiashvili, a French citizen born in Georgia.
They were flown in on a French Airbus A340 that had left for Georgia Monday carrying humanitarian supplies. It was due to fly back to Georgia later Tuesday with a second shipment of aid and medecines.

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