IRC Helps People in Need in Georgia
When war erupted between Georgia and Russia over the Georgian enclave of South Ossetia in August 2008, the Eloshvili family fled their home in the village of Kvemo Nikozi to escape the bombing and violence. Lying in Georgia proper but near the border of the disputed region, their town was part of the territory temporarily occupied by the Russian military and South Ossetian militias as the fighting escalated. The family returned in early October to find their orchards ruined and without the means to support themselves or get Tamar the sort of medical attention she needs.
Now, with the help of the International Rescue Committee, Tamar is finally able to visit the doctors for a diagnosis so she can receive treatment.
Like Tamar, the vast majority of families in Georgia’s “buffer zone” near the border with South Ossetia were displaced by the violence and lost everything. Now they have returned to find damaged infrastructure, few services, and no jobs.
The IRC works with local communities to identify returning refugees, like Tamar, in need of special assistance and provides them with the services they may need. The assistance can take the form of livelihood support or job training, winterization of their damaged homes, health care, psycho-social counseling, education or legal aid.
“Many people returning to their villages in the buffer zone are in poor health and bad shape economically and psychologically,” says M Peter Leifert, the IRC country director in Georgia. “With the help of IRC-trained community volunteers we identify the people and families most in need and give them what they need to start on the road to recovery.”
In the case of Tamar, the IRC provided her family with a small grant of 332 Georgian Lari (US$200) to allow them to take her to a doctor. Meanwhile, IRC volunteers from the local community continue to monitor her situation through follow-up visits.
Nine-year-old Irakli Kandelaki has a similar story. He had been under close doctor supervision since 2003 when a bad case of tuberculosis resulted in hydrocephalus, or a dangerous excess of fluid in his brain. However, with the outbreak of war, his medical care was abruptly interrupted. His family fled their home, returning a month later only to find their lives completely upended, their cattle killed and their gardens destroyed. Despite his serious health condition, Irakli went months without visiting a doctor or renewing his prescriptions.
After consulting with the local community, the IRC stepped in to help Irakli return to a normal life. By providing a small grant for a diagnosis along with legal aid to help him secure his disability pension, the IRC is ensuring that Irakli will receive the care he needs in the immediate term and in the future.
“For children in need of special assistance, like Tamar and Irakli, the IRC provides the hope of survival and a degree of normalcy in the face of violence and chaos,” says Manana Amonashvili, the IRC protection project manager in Georgia.
The IRC began emergency programming in Georgia in August of 2008 to help people displaced by the onset of war between Russia and Georgia. Now the IRC is assisting people returning home or creating new homes to restart their lives.