The streets of Duisi and Jokolo in the
Akhmeta region of eastern Georgia are crowded so that even cars can hardly
pass. The presence of nearly 6,000 refugees from neighbouring Chechnya
makes a huge difference to these tiny villages. However, no one can refuse
refuge to women, children and the elderly who flee war and destruction.
"Daily I have to take care of between sixty and seventy patients", says Makvala Kavtarashvili, the Georgian Red Cross doctor in the Duisi outpatient clinic. "There are no office hours any more, we work twenty four hours a day."
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has been providing essential medicines to the Akhmeta region since the very first days that the refugee influx from neighbouring Chechnya started. The road connecting Georgia and Chechnya has never been repaired and the fleeing population has come through the mountains, mainly on foot. The route is snowbound and many people get sick along the way. The refugee centre where the International Federation, the Georgian Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other organisations distribute food and non-food aid to the newcomers has turned into a gathering place. Standing outside in the yard warming up in the winter sunshine and discussing their problems and worries, they share one hope - to go home soon.