Wednesday evening, after a delay of several days to gain access and security guarantees, a convoy of five International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) vehicles finally pulled into the capital of South Ossetia. The team is composed of specialists in providing medical care, clean water and sanitation; restoring livelihoods; and reconnecting families who have been separated as well as visiting those detained or tracing those missing because of the conflict.
"We have indications that there are important needs in the region that still have to be addressed," said Jakob Kellenberger, the ICRC president who recently returned from a three-day visit to Georgia and the Russian Federation. "Obtaining access for the ICRC to South Ossetia was one of the main objectives of my visit."
The team is evaluating the condition and needs of the main hospital and other needs in the area such as food and supplies. They are also working to gain access to people who have been detained or who are missing in connection with the hostilities.
At this time the ICRC is accepting tracing inquiries to help reconnect families who have lost connections with their loved ones.
"People still searching for loved ones who have been separated in the recent weeks of fighting should fill out a tracing inquiry form with their local American Red Cross chapter," said Kathleen Salanik, Restoring Family Links program manager "The American Red Cross will work with the ICRC on the ground in Georgia to help reconnect loved ones."
Those searching for U.S. citizens who are in Georgia should work through the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens at 1-888-407-4747.
The American Red Cross has contributed $100,000 to the Red Cross humanitarian response in Georgia which, under the leadership of the ICRC, began immediately after the conflict started. As of 19 August, the ICRC has delivered 445 tons of assistance, including food, blankets, medicine and water treatment equipment, to Tbilisi by air and road. It is prepared to provide additional material based on its assessment of ongoing needs.
Additional information, recent news releases, photos and descriptions of available ICRC broadcast videos can be accessed at www.icrc.org