The Georgian town of Gori has been at the heart of the powerplay between Russia and Georgia.
Most of the residents of Gori have fled the shooting, bombing and armoured intimidation.
The government’s accusations of looting in the deserted town have been backed up by closed-circuit television images.
For those left behind every day has brought news of another promised troop pull-out which has never materialised, while they have struggled without electricity, fuel or water.
Gori is the closest town to the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia has stressed the need for it to be “secured”. Soldiers have been rounding up Georgian weapons.
In Tbilisi, refugees try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, at least temporarily, waiting until they can return home. But the future holds few guarantees.
“It’s all so difficult but our government is helping,” said one woman. “You know I am very ashamed. We don’t have any money left and I am so hungry.”
A huge humanitarian effort has been mounted. The authorities in Tbilisi say they are dealing with nearly 30,000 displaced people. It is feared people in the towns of Poti, Senaki and Zugdidi also need help.
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