08TBILISI1405, USAID/DART GEORGIA COMPLEX EMERGENCY SITUATION REPORT #1

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1405 2008-08-21 04:21 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

O 210421Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9927
INFO AMEMBASSY YEREVAN IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY KIEV IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY BAKU IMMEDIATE 
USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 
USMISSION UN ROME IMMEDIATE 
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 
NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS TBILISI 001405 
 
 
DEPT FOR EUR, S/CRS, PRM 
DEPT PLS PASS TO USAID 
USAID/W FOR A/AID HFORE; USAID/EE FOR ABREWER, RMAUSHAMMER; 
USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS 
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, ACONVERY, DHAJJAR, MMICHAUD, GEORGIA COMPLEX 
EMERGENCY RESPONSE MANAGEMENT TEAM 
DCHA/FFP FOR RGRANT; DCHA/OTI FOR RJENKINS 
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH 
NSC FOR PMARCHAM 
BRUSSELS FOR JADDLETON 
NEW YORK FOR FSHANKS 
ROME FOR RNEWBERG 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREF SOCI GG
SUBJECT:  USAID/DART GEORGIA COMPLEX EMERGENCY SITUATION REPORT #1 
 
REF: TBILISI 1356; STATE 85957 
------- 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  In early August, heightened tension led to armed conflict 
involving Georgian and Russian armed forces and a South Ossetian 
separatist group, affecting populations along the Georgia-Russia 
border and areas within Georgia, including South Ossetia, parts of 
Abkhazia, and the town of Gori.  While clashes between the parties 
have largely ceased since an August 12 ceasefire, tensions remain 
high in South Ossetia Region, Abkhazia, in and around Gori town in 
Shida Kartli Region, and in Poti port.  The fighting displaced more 
than 128,000 civilians and reportedly led to the deaths of hundreds 
of people. 
 
2.  In response to the crisis, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign 
Disaster Assistance deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team 
(USAID/DART) to Tbilisi, Georgia, to conduct humanitarian needs 
assessments and coordinate with the Government of Georgia (GOG) and 
relief agencies. 
 
3.  The USAID/DART notes that limits on access to all affected 
populations, including in South Ossetia Region, present challenges 
for humanitarian service delivery and needs prioritization. In 
addition, the proliferation of centers for internally displaced 
persons (IDPs) presents challenges for coordination of the response. 
 The USAID/DART continues to work with relief agencies and U.S. 
Government agencies in Georgia to provide needed assistance to 
conflict-affected populations.  End summary. 
 
-------------- 
NUMBER OF IDPS 
-------------- 
 
4.  According to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR), the conflict in Georgia has displaced an estimated 
128,700 individuals in Georgia, and the Government of the Russian 
Federation (GORF) reports that approximately 30,000 individuals were 
displaced from South Ossetia into Russia during the clashes. 
 
5.  On August 19, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of 
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that approximately 100,000 
pre-existing internally displaced persons (IDPs) were living in more 
than 1,600 collective centers before conflict erupted in August and 
provided estimates that more than 550 IDP centers have opened in 
Tbilisi alone since the crisis began. 
 
-------------------------------- 
SECURITY AND HUMANITARIAN ACCESS 
-------------------------------- 
 
6.  As of August 19, international media report no significant signs 
of Russian troops withdrawing from Georgia, despite an agreement to 
pull back to pre-conflict areas beginning August 18.  The security 
situation remains tense, particularly in South Ossetia, Gori, and 
Abkahzia.  Humanitarian agencies remain unable to access South 
Ossetia Region, where much of the fighting occurred.  According to 
OCHA, no humanitarian agencies have undertaken a full assessment 
mission or assistance operations in South Ossetia to date, with 
access remaining sporadic. 
 
7.  As security has improved in Gori, multiple relief agencies have 
made preliminary damage assessments of Gori town and surrounding 
areas.  Despite media reports that Gori sustained critical damage to 
most or all dwellings, the assessments indicate that 10 to 15 
residential buildings in Gori town that previously housed 300-500 
individuals are heavily damaged, and approximately 30 percent of 
houses in Gori town sustained window damage. 
 
8.  In Gori Region, a non-governmental organization (NGO) assessment 
team reported that at least 15 to 20 percent of homes are damaged 
and 2 to 3 percent are completely destroyed, affecting 2,000-10,000 
households.  Community members in shelters for displaced persons are 
reluctant to return to communities in the near future but have 
considered the possibility of returning to Gori town. 
 
9. Although a damaged rail line between Gori and Tbilisi has 
temporarily halted rail transit, humanitarian travel is beginning to 
flow on the major east-west highway across the country, allowing the 
distribution of humanitarian relief to Gori and as far west as Poti, 
along the Black Sea.  The USAID/DART notes the need for unimpeded 
access to affected populations, as full humanitarian assessments are 
necessary for prioritization of assistance.  The USAID/DART is 
working with NGO and U.N. partners to facilitate information-sharing 
regarding planned assessments and humanitarian needs. &#x000
A; 
-------- 
FOOD AID 
-------- 
 
10.  As of August 18, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) had reached 
114,500 beneficiaries in Georgia.  WFP is providing IDPs with wheat 
flour, vegetable oil, beans, salt, sugar, high-energy biscuits, and 
baked bread.  Since access to cooking facilities remains a challenge 
for IDP populations in some urban IDP collection centers, the U.S. 
Government (USG) has provided ready-to-eat food (RUF) and 
high-energy biscuits to IDP populations in the Tbilisi and Gori 
areas.  U.S.  European Command (EUCOM) flights of USG 
meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) and humanitarian daily rations (HDRs) are 
ongoing. 
 
11.  According to WFP, regular humanitarian convoys into Gori and 
surrounding villages began on August 18, with a consignment of 2,500 
10-day rations, including wheat flour, oil, and sugar, to the 
village of Arteni, south of Gori, where an estimated 10,000 former 
Gori inhabitants have reportedly taken refuge. 
 
12.  On August 19, WFP moved its first convoy since the start of the 
crisis from the port of Poti to Tbilisi.  The convoy consisted of 11 
trucks transporting 220 metric tons (MT) of wheat flour.  The 
establishment of the route provides a critical pipeline of 
commodities, including food aid, toward eastern Georgia following 
the destruction of the rail line linking the Black Sea and eastern 
Georgia. 
 
------ 
HEALTH 
------ 
 
13.  USAID/Georgia and USAID/DART staff note that the proliferation 
of IDP collective centers, with numerous people living in close 
proximity, could pose future health risks.  USAID/Georgia has 
provided $62,944 to World Vision/Georgia to provide health 
activities in six IDP collective centers in Tbilisi.  The health 
activities, which will be staffed by one nurse and one psychologist, 
will provide basic medical and psycho-social support to residents of 
the six centers on a daily basis. 
 
-------------------- 
USG RESPONSE TO DATE 
-------------------- 
 
14.  The USG has provided more than USD 8.2 million to date in 
response to the crisis.  On August 9, U.S. Ambassador John F. Tefft 
declared a disaster due to the effects of armed conflict in Georgia, 
and USAID/OFDA provided an initial USD 250,000 through the U.S. 
Embassy in Tbilisi for the provision of emergency relief supplies to 
benefit up to 10,000 people.  In addition, USAID/OFDA, in 
coordination with USAID's Office of Food for Peace, provided USD 1 
million to WFP for local procurement of more than 650 MT of 
emergency food commodities, including high-energy biscuits, for 
displaced people who lack access to cooking facilities. 
Distributions of WFP food in Gori began on August 15. 
 
15.  U.S. Embassy Tbilisi has released Department of State 
pre-positioned disaster packages including medical supplies, tents, 
blankets, bedding, hygiene items, and clothing valued at USD 1.2 
million.  As of August 19, EUCOM had delivered 15 flights of USG 
relief and medical supplies to Tbilisi to benefit populations 
affected by the conflict.  The total value of EUCOM's assistance, 
including DOD emergency relief supplies, is more than USD 3.8 
million. 
 
16.  USAID/OFDA continues to work closely with USAID/Georgia, the 
U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy Tbilisi, Department of 
Defense, and humanitarian agencies on the ground to coordinate 
relief activities. 
 
TEFFT

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