ICRC gets green light to work in South Ossetia

The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has sent a 17-strong humanitarian team to South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali.

This content was published on August 20, 2008 - 13:01

The ICRC will be the first humanitarian agency to work in the breakaway Georgian province since the beginning of the ten-day conflict between Russia and its southern neighbour Georgia.

"It's very positive that after all these efforts we can enter," ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger told journalists in Geneva on Wednesday after a three-day humanitarian mission to the region. The move follows talks between Kellenberger and the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and approval from South
Ossetian authorities.

The convoy of seven expatriates and ten local staff arrived in Tskhinvali on Wednesday afternoon to establish contacts with the authorities and carry out initial humanitarian evaluations.

Tskhinvali was the site of some of the heaviest fighting between the Georgian army and South Ossetian rebels backed by Russian troops. The city is currently under Russian control.

The ICRC estimates that about 80,000 people have been displaced by the conflict, not including South Ossetia, and it is presently able to respond to the needs of 25,000 of them.

The humanitarian situation in South Ossetia is currently unclear, but the ICRC says it has "numerous reports and information" pointing towards "important needs", in particular in terms of protection work and medical assistance.

Kellenberger estimated that some 1,200 people were wounded during the conflict, of whom 1,000 were treated in Georgia and 220 in North Ossetia.

Kellenberger told journalists that his staff have also opened an office in the Georgian city of Gori.

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