|As humanitarian crisis grows, Mercy Corps distributing emergency relief in Georgia|
|August 20, 2008|
The Statement of Mercy Corps
August 14, 2008 – Portland, OR – As a major humanitarian effort gets under way in Georgia and South Ossetia, Mercy Corps is rushing emergency relief to thousands of people displaced by the fighting between Russian and Georgian forces.
Yesterday the agency distributed emergency food supplies to displaced people in five temporary camps in and around the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Mercy Corps expects to expand its distribution of relief supplies to thousands of internally displaced people throughout the area in the coming days.
"Right now the critical need is relief," said Jim White, Mercy Corps' vice-president of program operations. "But as the fighting subsides and displaced people return home, we will focus on longer-term recovery – of housing, schools, and livelihoods – and then on reconciliation among people on all sides of this conflict."
The United Nations estimates that approximately 100,000 people have been uprooted from their homes by the fighting.
Fighting started last Thursday following months of heightened tensions in the semi-autonomous region of South Ossetia. The fighting escalated when Russia sent troops and tanks into the two disputed regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and then further into Georgia.
Mercy Corps has worked in Georgia since 2000. The agency's programs support rural development by helping farm families increase production, gain access to financing, form farmer groups, and connect to markets and information. Mercy Corps has also helped cultivate young leaders working to build an inclusive, multi-ethnic society in Georgia.
Mercy Corps was on the verge of launching a new program in South Ossetia aimed at increasing interaction between ethnic Ossetian and Georgian youth when the conflict began.
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