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The News in Brief

Thursday, August 12
WHO declares H1N1 pandemic over

The World Health Organisation on Tuesday announced the end of the swine flu pandemic; more than a year after the disease began spreading around the world, sparking panic and killing thousands.

“The world is no longer in phase six of the pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in a telephone news conference.

“The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course,” she added.

The top phase of the WHO’s six tier pandemic alert scale corresponds to a pandemic, or global spread of a disease.

The step followed advice given earlier Tuesday by the WHO’s advisory emergency committee of 15 external scientists headed by Australian infectious diseases expert John Mackenzie.

The H1N1 influenza has killed more than 18,449 people and affected some 214 countries and territories since it was uncovered in Mexico and the United States in April 2009, according to WHO data.

The new virus spread swiftly worldwide despite emergency containment measures including a week long shutdown in Mexico, prompting the UN health agency to scale up its alerts and declare a pandemic on June 11, 2009. (Rustavi 2)

1200 IDPs sign symbolical Message to Civilized World in Western Georgia

On Wednesday about 1200 internally displaced people living in the settlement of Kopitnari in Western Georgia signed a symbolic scroll. A rally: Message of IDPs to Civilized World rally has been held for several days.

In their message, the IDPS urge the Russian occupying troops to leave Georgian territory and allow them to return to their homes. The scroll will travel to every IDP settlement in Georgia. It will be later signed by Georgians living abroad and then sent to UN. (Rustavi 2)

Refugees from 8 Machabeli Street Protest by US Embassy

Refugees living in 8 Machabeli Street held a protest by US Embassy. They demanded satisfactory accommodation.

They said they had been told by old Tbilisi police to leave the building.

Refugee from Tskhinvali region, namely from Zemo Artsevi Kakha Terashvili states that they entered the building of Tbilisi City Hall in 8 Machabeli Street after August war. His family was not given $10 000 in compensation being told that he didn’t permanently live in Zemo Artsevi.

Terashvili says he worked in law enforcement structures; that he had detained several Ossetian people and it was dangerous for him to live in Artsevi. He says he has nowhere to go.

Refugee from Kodori Gorge Darejan Gerliani states she refused to take $10 000 compensation herself, as she was told if she refused to this compensation, she would be given satisfactory accommodation. She could not buy a flat with this money, thus she stayed in the small, crowded dwelling.

Refugees state there are 41 families in 8 Machabeli Street, 7 are from Samachablo, 1 – from Kodori gorge and the rest are from Abkhazia. (Interpressnews)

Students take part in Remembrance Rally for soldiers killed in August war

As part of the Remembrance Rally student laid wreaths on tombs of soldiers killed in the Russia-Georgia war of August 2008. The young people observed a minute's silence at Mukhatgverdi cemetery to pay tribute to memory of the fallen soldiers. Around 500 students of universities of Tbilisi took part in the rally.

From Mukhatgverdi cemetery, the students moved to Holy Trinity Cathedral, where they lit candles for the killed soldiers. They also intend to hold a Rally of Lights on Rose Revolution Square in Tbilisi.

The students will stand around an outline of Georgia's map drawn in the centre of the square, light candles together and release lanterns in the sky. (Rustavi 2)

More fires found in Samtskhe-Javakheti Region

New pockets of fire have been found in Samtskhe-Javakheti Region. Dertseli and Mokhi woods are burning in Adigeni district. The fire broke out unexpectedly on Wednesday morning. 70 rescuers and several fire engines have been sent from Borjomi to Adigeni.

As for Borjomi Gorge, the wind has again strengthened and caused fires to ignite in four other places. Fire fighters and rescuers continue working in the woods. Over 700 people are fighting the disaster. Helicopters are also involved in the operation, although if the wind strengthens, they may face some problems. Local settlements face no danger yet. (Rustavi 2)

Street Traders Protest at Tbilisi City Hall

Street traders held protests by Tbilisi City Hall yesterday. They protested about the ban on street trade. As InterpressNews was told by trader Marina Shvitsova, they didn’t pay taxes as street traders. She says they are offered places in ‘Tergi’ market (Vagzali market) what is unacceptable to them.

One of the traders says she worked on ‘Tergi’ market; she had two places, though she could not pay taxes and could not get income so she was involved in the street trade.

They have been offered to be let off payments until the New Year, though street traders say they can not pay taxes even from then.

They state they will join actions until street trade is allowed.

Conservative Lasha Chkhartishvili and member of People’s party Aleko Shalamberidze supported the action. (Interpressnews)

Ship under Hong-Kong Flag Detained over Sea Pollution

The investigative-operative main division of border police and Conventional Inspection for the Protection of the Black Sea detained the ship ‘Great Majesty’ under Hong-Kong flag for polluting the sea.

The border police reports that the ship poured isolated ballast waters into the sea, thus it was detained in Poti port harbour.

The ship's captain Matiar Rahman was requested to pay a GEL 10 000 fine according to Georgian administrative code. (Interpressnews)