IRC Opens Children's Center in Gori; Brings Clean Water, Sanitation to Thousands of Displaced People
More than 1,500 displaced people, mostly ethnic Georgians from Russian-occupied areas, packed a tent camp in Gori that was established for 1,000 individuals only a week ago. The International Rescue Committee rapidly constructed 50 latrines, 25 showers and a dozen water points at the camp to ensure families there have clean drinking water and adequate washing and sanitation facilities. More will be built to meet the growing need.
The IRC also set up a children's center at the camp so that children can play and learn in a safe, structured and nurturing environment. In a matter of days, daily attendance rose from 50 boys and girls to 280. The IRC's local partner, Charity Humanitarian Centre Abkhazeti (CHCA), is carrying out sports, arts, interactive games and educational programs for the children.
"It's been great to see the children engaged so quickly in meaningful and organized activities," says Eric James, who is overseeing IRC's emergency programs in Georgia. "For displaced children living in a conflict zone, it becomes so important to keep their minds and bodies active."
Next week, the IRC and CHCA will begin launching children's programs at more than a dozen sites where displaced families have settled in Tbilisi and nine additional accommodation centers in Gori.
Meanwhile, the IRC is working with local plumbers and builders to rehabilitate water and sanitation systems at 11 buildings in Tbilisi where people found shelter. Most of the sites are crowded and unsanitary and lack clean water, functioning toilets and places to bathe. IRC aid workers have also distributed hygiene supplies for more than 10,000 people in 45 locations in Georgia.
James says that while many people uprooted by the violence are returning home, thousands of others will likely be displaced for a long time to come.
"Those whose homes and communities have been destroyed, as well as ethnic Georgians who come from areas currently occupied by Russian or Russian-supported forces will not be able to go home anytime soon," says James. "The situation is very difficult for them. They are filled with uncertainty about when it will be safe enough to return and what the future holds for them."
The IRC has been active in the Caucasus, including North Ossetia, since 1993 and maintains a staff of 85 aid workers in the region.
Melissa Winkler (New York) +1 646-734-0305, melissa.winkler@theIRC.org
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