Georgia YMCA reacted quickly in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, delivering food, clothes and hygienic items to over 2000 refugees in Tbilisi. Today, the YMCA is assessing the longer-term needs of local populations and the possibilities of future collaboration with aid organisations in the South Ossetia region.
The town of Gori was one of the worst affected areas during the conflict, and is now home to thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs), mainly from the Tskhinvali region.
Between the 11th and 19th of September, top YMCA leaders including the National General Secretary of Georgia YMCA Gela Chikhradze and the Programme Development Secretary Revaz Shavladze travelled to Gori. The purpose of the visit was to meet with local non-governmental organisations to explore the possibilities of working with IDP children and youth and to the lay the foundation for the establishment of a local YMCA in Gori.
The Youth Development Centre, a local organisation providing assistance to IDP youth, highlighted the fact that the most vulnerable and neglected population of IDPs are youth aged 16-22, as there are no organisations working with this particular group. School-aged children, women, and the elderly are serviced by numerous local and international aid organisations.
YMCA representatives visited the so-called "Tent Town" in which IDPs are sheltered, and met with members of the IDP community who shared their concerns. The living conditions are very poor; up to six families live together in one tent with no toilets or private space, food distribution is unorganised and often delayed, and there is little opportunity for school-aged children to continue receiving education.
Key Meeting with International Organisations
Strongly motivated to support the IDP community, YMCA representatives participated in a key meeting with all other international organisations involved in relief and assistance work in Gori, held every Friday. Participants included UN agencies such as UNHCR and UNICEF, and international non-governmental organisations including Save the Children, World Vision and the Norwegian Refugee Council. Georgia YMCA representatives shared information about their activities, and expressed their desire to engage in child and youth-orientated activities.
Several organisations showed great interest in the possibility of collaboration with the YMCA, and have already identified joint actions, due to begin this week.