Georgia

Georgia: Humanitarian needs still growing

By World Vision staff

- Humanitarian needs from the Georgia conflict are still growing

- World Vision is beginning assistance in North Ossetia and expanding aid in Georgia

- World Vision's Child-Friendly Spaces will provide a safe place for children to play, learn and heal

- "Bullets were flying around like hail," a young mother tells World Vision staff

As violence in and around South Ossetia continues, World Vision teams in both Georgia and the Russian Federation are responding to the increasing humanitarian needs of children and families who have fled the conflict zone. Some 100,000 people in all are estimated to have been uprooted from their homes, and are in need of shelter and emergency support.

North Ossetia

In North Ossetia, World Vision is providing medical supplies such as bandages, crutches, pain relievers, syringes and antibiotics to the wounded through partners. The Christian humanitarian agency also plans to open Child-Friendly Spaces to provide children with a safe and structured environment where they can obtain informal education and interact with other children.

"People are continuing to arrive in North Ossetia by the busload, and many civilians are wounded," said Siobhan Kimmerle, World Vision's national director in the Russian Federation. "World Vision has also found that many families have been separated from their loved ones in the chaos."

Georgia

Meanwhile, the Christian humanitarian agency continues to assist civilians who fled south into Georgia proper.

"The humanitarian needs here are growing exponentially, faster than the combined agencies can keep up," warned David Womble, national director of World Vision in Georgia. "We continue to look at the tip of the iceberg."

World Vision's team in Georgia has been asked by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme and the government of Georgia to increase its response as quickly as possible to meet the immediate food, non-food and health needs of internally displaced people. Even as 95 official collection centres have opened in Tbilisi and surrounding areas, thousands of displaced people remain unregistered and lack access to shelter or food.

According to Russian officials, more than 30,000 people have fled into North Ossetia and more than 150 public buildings are providing temporary shelter.

"World Vision is especially concerned about the longer-term needs of children who have seen and experienced the horrors of war," Kimmerle said from North Ossetia. "In addition, school is starting in two weeks, so we are considering how best to assist children as they start the academic year in communities where they have been given temporary shelter."

One young mother named Shushanik arrived from South Ossetia with her 3-year-old son: "I was scared out of my mind. Bullets were flying around like hail," she told World Vision staff in North Ossetia. "I hope my son is too young to remember this war," she said.