The IRC Distributes Hygiene Items to Georgia's Displaced
The International Rescue Committee has started providing essential aid to people displaced by the conflict in Georgia and the breakaway region of South Ossetia. In a first of several planned distributions, IRC teams this week handed out hygiene kits to nearly 2,300 people in nine temporary shelters around the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
According to the Georgian government, some 90,000 people are currently displaced across Georgia, housed in tent camps, kindergartens, abandoned government buildings and hospitals. Many of the sites are in sub-standard condition, lacking electricity and clean water.
"Some of the conditions that the displaced are currently living in are terrible and pose a serious public health risk," explains IRC environmental health specialist Jason Snuggs. "Many displaced are living in abandoned buildings with broken toilets, but they are still using them or defecating in the open outside the buildings. With such conditions, it is only a matter of time before we see outbreaks of diarrheal diseases."
Snuggs is part of the emergency response team dispatched to Georgia to assess the humanitarian situation and launch much-needed aid programs.
The IRC's hygiene kits contain mops, buckets, bleach and soap, so that the displaced are able to keep communal toilets and bathing areas clean at the sites.
"The condition of these communal areas often deteriorates quickly due to overuse and lack of cleaning materials," Snuggs says. He also notes that that the newly displaced usually have no experience dealing with the kind of public health concerns that emerge when large groups of people are suddenly crammed together in unsuitable spaces.
"Tomorrow we will be training our local partner organizations in safe hygiene practices," says Snuggs. "That way they can recognize and address sanitary problems as they assess many of the 700 sites where displaced people have settled in and around Tbilisi."
The IRC will continue distributing hygiene kits and other essential items in the coming weeks. Working alongside local aid groups, the IRC emergency team will also provide the displaced with water and sanitation services and psychosocial support for children traumatized by the conflict.
How You Can Help
Donate now to help the IRC assist victims of the crisis in the Georgia region.
Media Contact: Melissa Winker, Melissa.Winkler@theIRC.org or +1 646-734-0305