18 August 2008

SOS Children's Villages in Georgia Helps Refugees

Kutaisi Georgia Crisis
Displaced families in Kutaisi are provided with essentials
08/18/08 - SOS Children's Villages has been caring for refugee families in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, for several days. SOS Children's Villages is also looking after families from crisis area Abkhazia in Kutaisi.

The escalating conflict between Russia and Georgia over the provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is hitting civilians hard. Many are fleeing conflict areas within South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well as other areas in Georgia. Refugees in Georgia have been assured that they will be able to find shelter in schools, which is being coordinated by the Ministry of Refugees and Displacement. Russian troops are still present in several Georgian towns, including Gori, Poti, Zugdidi and Maltakva.

For several days, around 60 refugees from South Ossetia -- mainly families with children -- have been staying at the SOS Kindergarten in Tbilisi and a secondary school supported by SOS Children's Villages.  SOS Children's Villages is providing them with essentials such as food and clothing. Representatives of the Ministry have informed SOS Children's Villages that more refugees are expected.

Swiad Berdenischiwili, director of SOS Children's Villages in Georgia, says the school can take in up to 350 people. Families with children will be the ones targeted in SOS Children's Villages' relief efforts.

Many displaced persons are also stranded in Kutaisi, which is about 125 miles west of Tbilisi. The SOS Children's Village in Kutaisi is  is currently organizing material aid for refugees staying at "Deaf Children's Home" near the Village. Fifty refugees, 20 of whom are children, are currently living at the home. Authorities in Kutaisi expect the refugee numbers to increase, especially in Abkhazia.

The number of displaced persons is between 150,000-200,000, according to the most recent estimates by authorities.

SOS Children's Villages is meeting with national and international organizations to discuss future partnerships for possible aid to displaced persons.

Meanwhile, SOS children have also returned to the SOS Children's Village in Kutaisi, which had been temporarily evacuated last week due to the conflict in Georgia.

About SOS Children's Villages in Georgia

SOS Children's Villages has two Villages in Georgia. The first Village was opened in Kutaisi in 1996, and five years later construction began to bring an additional Village to Tbilisi. SOS Children's Villages also operates two SOS Youth Facilities, an SOS Kindergarten and an SOS Social Center in Georgia.

SOS Children's Villages became active in Georgia in the 1990's due to social and economic conditions deteriorating to such an extent that children were being forced to fend for themselves on the streets.