Saturday, August 30, 2008

ACT Update Georgia & Russian Federation 01/2008: Conflict in Caucasus response operation

Geneva, August 29, 2008

General situation

Since the opening of hostilities on or about August 8, 2008, tens of thousands of people have been displaced from South Ossetia into Russia and other parts of Georgia. The scale of damage within South Ossetia is difficult to assess due to limits to the access of international organisations. Several locations with some military or strategic significance also suffered damage. Free travel along the country's only major highway has only recently become possible. Unexploded ordinance and looting are a concern in some locations. Access to the town of Gori, just outside the de facto buffer zone established along the boundaries of South Ossetia, has recently become possible. Entry into South Ossetia from other parts of Georgia is still not allowed. UN estimates place the number of displaced people in Georgia at more than 120,000.

The bulk of those displaced into other parts of Georgia have gathered in collective centers in Tbilisi, although significant numbers have also gathered in the larger regional towns. It is estimated that several thousand have taken shelter with relatives or friends. This creates greater difficulties in assessing total internally displaced person (IDP) numbers and reaching those in need.

In recent days, there has been a large movement of refugees from North Ossetia back to South Ossetia. From August 22 to 26 all of the 22 Temporary Accommodation Centers (TACs) in North Ossetia were closed as well as most of the TACs in other regions of North Caucasus.

Migration Service of Russia says that by August 29 the remaining 9 TACs for South Ossetian refugees will be closed in Southern Russia, and refugees will remain only in the private sector. The refugees that previously stayed in TACs and in the private sector are massively returning to South Ossetia.

According to the most recent report from the Russian Federation's Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM), the current status of the estimated 35,300 people who crossed the border into North Ossetia following the recent conflict is as follows: 23,609 people have returned to South Ossetia; 8,707 are in the North Caucasus staying with relatives; and 2,950 people are living in 41 temporary shelters who will return to South Ossetia by September 1.

An ACT member responding in North Ossetia reported that the refugees have returned back to South Ossetia so fast that the international humanitarian organisations who planned relief operations in North Ossetia have to urgently reconsider their plans and transfer their operations to South Ossetia.

ACT response

ACT issued a Rapid Response Fund (RRF) of $60,000 to ACT member, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) on August 21 to assist the refugees who fled to North Ossetia. Due to the rapid change of the situation, the ROC had to adjust the RRF implementation plan. On August 26-28, the distribution of 1,020 hygiene kits for persons returning to South Ossetia was implemented.

Most of the returnees will be accommodated in TACs in Tskhinval (the number of kits was increased from the original RRF plan). The distribution is organised in Alagir (North Ossetia, close to the boarder with South Ossetia) at the transit station for the refugees returning to South Ossetia.

ACT member organisations in Georgia have already undertaken distributions of food and non-food items along with the provision of psychosocial support. An assessment team of ACT members has met with representatives of the Georgian Patriarchate, local partner agencies, UN-coordinated sector groups, and has visited collective centers and distributions. ACT members are meeting regularly and are preparing plans for a coordinated ACT response to the fast developing situation in Georgia. The ACT assessment team has completed its work in parts of Georgia excluding South Ossetia and a preliminary appeal is being prepared.

The ACT members working in Georgia, but outside of South Ossetia, are: International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS) and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH).

ACT members will also take part in an assessment mission to South Ossetia on August 29-30 and will prepare an appeal based on the assessment findings. Those members are: Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), FinnChurchAid (FCA), Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Also, Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) has representatives in the region and plans to conduct an assessment in the Russian Federation and also in some parts of South Ossetia.

Specific activities and achievements

ACT members and partners continue co-ordination between each other and with other non-governmental organisations (NGO) and UN agencies.

Activities of ACT member organisations to date:

Distribution of food and non-food items including bedding
and hygiene parcels to 1,000 IDPs
Tbilisi and

Distribution of food, MREs, hygiene items, medicines and
some supplementary food to 55,600 IDPs
Tbilisi and Imereti region

Distribution of food to 800 IDPs

-Mobile health service (through local NGO Genesis) for 7,253
IDPs at 26 collective centers
-Distribution of food through Civil Development Institute and
Ombudsman's office in Tbilisi:
-Psychological Support
TbilisiTbilisiAteni Gorge

Distribution of 1020 hygiene kits and food parcels.

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, John Nduna (phone ++41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 203 6055)


ACT Appeals Officer, Michelle Yonetani (phone ++ 41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 285 2916)

ACT Web Site address:



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