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At least they have food

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Monday, October 6
Time passes but the life of Georgian IDPs is not changing for the better. The city of tents in Gori is still full of IDPs from the villages of the conflict zones. As the weather is getting worse their living conditions become harder. They still live with hope of returning to their houses but hopes still remain just hopes.

“I will never forget how my village was bombed. It is where I was born and where I have spent all my life. What happened is a tragedy, a great tragedy, but I am living in hope that we will return, even though our house is destroyed,” 20 year old Nino Mindiashvili from the village Nikozi, 2 kilometres from Tskhinvali, says.

Nino and her family left the village on the day the war started. “Things happened so fast that we could not take even our clothes or some things,” she remembers. Nino also lives in the city of tents with other IDPs. Yes, she misses the dinners prepared by her mother or herself, but as there is no alternative Nino eats the food prepared near the tents.

The IDPs have two meals a day, a breakfast and a dinner. The World Food Programme (WFP), which as ever reacted promptly to the crisis in Georgia, opened its sub-office in Gori on August 27 and established a warehouse in the town to provide food for thousands of people. Its presence in Gori is of great benefit to IDPs and locals, as during the State of Emergency stores were not functioning in the city. Through a system it set up WFP delivered wheat flour to three bakeries in Gori so that they could bake and deliver enough bread to feed 10,000 people, including displaced people living in shelters and the city of tents and the most vulnerable returnees to Gori itself.

As with most international organizations WFP reports that it had great difficulty distributing food in the buffer zones. Russian troops manning the checkpoints north of Gori refused to allow humanitarian aid through to the surrounding villages, where people were struggling to restore their livelihoods. But on October 1 WFP representatives visited the tent dwellers and delivered food to them. The IDPs welcomed them and expressed their gratitude to them. “I am glad that we are not being ignored. Moreover I can say that international organizations take care of us more than the locals do,” IDP Lali Gulishvili told The Messenger.

The first distribution of WFP food to the buffer zone north of Gori took place on 11 September after WFP negotiated access with the general commanding the Russian forces. Further distributions of WFP food to 34 villages is being undertaken in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross, although access remains restricted. WFP will carry out its own deliveries, with NGO partners, in other villages where access is possible. To date WFP has provided food to more than 11,000 people in Gori, including IDPs and vulnerable returnees and residents.

As a result of the Russian aggression half of Nikozi was destroyed, including the eparchy. Most of the population now lives in temporary shelter in Gori. The President’s representative in the village, Gia Devidze, talking to The Messenger, said that the situation is tense there, especially at night, but locals are still returning to their homes. Devidze says that straight after the war some locals, mainly old people and men, returned to the village but they are still afraid to spend the night at home. They leave the village each evening and sleep in gardens or tents in safer places. He says however that buses are running from Gori and Tbilisi to Nikozi and if some locals wish to return it is quite possible.