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Friday, 5 September 2008

Gori and Beyond, Georgia, Sept. 5, 2008

Gori, Stalin's birthplace, has plenty of aid coming in after its pounding during the recent Russian invasion. Damaged apartment blocks are already halfway through renovation. Tent camps provided by UNHCR are sheltering 1500 people so far. Food, mostly cooked by Italian Red Cross staff, is being distributed. So, plenty of good being done, though much help is still needed. The 2nd frame here shows Koba Subeliani, far left, a Svan, MP in charge of human rights and protection of religious minorities(!), discussing humanitarian needs with some of the people with whom I had travelled to Gori. I was delighted to meet him. Below that, a look into the kitchen where food for the refugees' tent camp is being prepared.

The bottom 3 photos are from another village, Variani, which we entered by skirting the Russian checkpoint, going in on back roads to behind "occupied territory" lines. A bomb-damaged house and some of the wreckage in a wheelbarrow, along with a boy from the house holding up a bullet and bomb fragments; and a flag-marked example of UXO, or unexploded ordinance, about the size of a hand grenade. Plenty of bad stories here, fear and nightmares.

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