Almost 100,000 people have been displaced by the conflict over South Ossetia, according to the UN refugee agency. Some fled north, others south. Many crossed the border into Russia, escaping Georgian shelling. Others sought a safe haven in Georgia proper, in the face of a Russian advance. “Shooting started, the house was destroyed,” said one woman, who has taken refuge at a camp in North Ossetia, inside Russia.
The UNHCR’s estimate of almost 100,000 uprooted people is based on figures from the Georgian and Russian governments. “Our six offices and more than 50 staff in Georgia already work for an existing beneficiary population of some 275,000 previously displaced people: refugees, stateless people and returnees. Unfortunately, that number is now climbing,” said Ron Redmond of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at a news briefing in Geneva.
Relief supplies are being despatched to the devastated region. Aid agencies have renewed their appeal for the opening of humanitarian corridors, to provide safe and unhindered access to civilians in desperate need.