05 September 2008

Gori, Georgia

The world remains watchful of the situation in Georgia, especially as refugees begin to try to return home. One city, Gori, is exhausted from the effort of containing displaced persons within its shelter's borders. Most of the refugees come from the "buffer zone" between Gori and the South Ossetian border. Some of the latest arrivals from a town called Beloti are telling stories of harrassment and intimidation from the militia directed towards those who chose not to flee to surrounding towns. Many of the refugees had been traveling on foot for several days to 2 weeks, remaining in hiding in an effor to escape harrassment. They expressed fear for the safety of those who were unable to flee the violence, such as the elderly and bedridden.

Teams from the UNHCR report that people are worried for their family members who may have been left behind and fearful for their situation as displaced persons in the face of coming winter.

The UNHCR reports "At its height, more than 158,000 people were displaced during the conflict that erupted on Aug. 8 – about 128,000 within Georgia and some 30,000 who fled to the Russian Federation. The vast majority of those who fled to the Russian Federation have now returned to their places of origin in South Ossetia. Prior to the latest crisis, UNHCR had been working on behalf of some 220,000 previously displaced people, refugees, returnees, asylum seekers and stateless people in Georgia."

Amnesty International asks that you continue to demand that the United States use its considerable power to promote and encourage an end to the conflict, a long term resolution to the problem, and assurance that Georgian displaced persons and refugees can return home soon.

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