One year has passed since the conflict sparked between Georgia and Russia. Running from their homes on both sides of the fighting, over 130,000 people ended up in the homes of relatives, in music schools, fire stations, abandoned hospitals, factories and tents. Although the conflict lasted just seven days, hundreds of thousands of people remain affected psychologically, socially and economically.
Shalva Gabrielashvili, 78, from village Kheiti, now residing in Gori district, Tsilkani new settlement for IDPs: “One year has passed but I still feel as if it was yesterday. I am an old man and have seen many good and bad things in my life, but would never imagine that in the last years of my life I would be forced to leave my house. I left my house after the war was over. Our enemies robbed not only our houses but also took our cattle, all we had for our living. But even if somebody gifts us cows, we won’t be able to keep them because this place is useless for cattle breeding. Here is no grass, no trees to make shade. The only thing you can see here are these one-room cottages. My grandchild Tsotne, 5, like many others here, is getting ill from the sanitarian disorders. Water supply is very poor here and mostly temperature runs over 40 degrees in summer… Medical centers are too far from here... We have no income source to buy even medicines.”
Tsira Terterashvili, 41, Gori district, Karaleti village: “When the war began, we left for my brother’s house in Tbilisi. Now we are back in our half-ruined village. Despite numerous damages we still can live in this house and try to rebuild our life. But now I am an ill woman. After the war, my health is bad, I feel my nerves are week and I cannot continue to cultivate the land as I used to. Although CARE has done a blessed job to support us with firewood and food and this really helped us survive the winter, it is still hard for us to make ends meet. We are five in the family and there is no enough food for all of the family members. Usually my husband and I go to bed hungry to save some food for our grandchildren and our pregnant daughter-in-law. The only income is my son Archil’s salary who, thanks God, survived August war and still is on military service. I am afraid that war will start again and this time my son may not come back...”
Nargiza Kristesiashvili, 65, from Gori district, South Ossetian/Russian controlled village Eredvi, now residing in Karaleti new settlement for IDPs: “I am a refugee for a second time. First I had to leave my three room apartment in the city of Tskhinvali when the conflict broke out in 1990s. Then I moved to the village of Eredvi and started a new life. Together with my husband I used to cultivate land and grew apples and vegetables, which was easy to sell in the North Caucasus. We also had cows and a chicken farm. All that was more than enough for our family. But now you see where I am – living on barren land, in a tiny cottage. If it was not CARE, this ceiling would have fallen down soon because of no insulation in the roof. Now with CARE and USAID support we have installed proper insulation. But still our state is far from what we had in the past. No jobs for me and my husband. No kindergartens for my grandchildren, who live with my children and daughters-in-law in neighboring cottages. The only income we have is 78 GEL (approx. $47) of social assistance for my husband, me and my mother aged 88.”
Nino Bibiluri, 22, from Gori district, South Ossetian/Russian controlled village Kvemo Artsevi, now residing in Kvemo Kartli, village Sovkoz Samgorski: “I was five months pregnant when the conflict began. Our village is the nearest to Tskhinvali and the shootings were reaching our village from the very first days of the conflict. My husband and I did not wait until the situation deteriorated and arrived here in Kvemo Kartli to my mother’s place. My mother has four children except me and one of them is two year-old. It was very rarely possible to have enough food for all the members of the family. But CARE’s assistance was right on time. It supplied us with basic food and non-food items. Beddings were much important for us. My husband’s parents returned in the village and my husband goes there from time to time. But I am still afraid to go back. There are Ossetian block posts in the village. What if war starts again? I may not manage to escape with my seven months old son Matt. Local municipality did us a favor and let us live in this old former police building. Conditions are terrible here - no water, no sewerage, but it is much safer than in Kvemo Artsevi. My husband has now found a job in Tbilisi, thus we have enough money to feed our baby.
Mtvarisa Kochkiani, 25, from Kodori gorge, (nearest to north Abkhazia) village Omarishali, now residing in old building of former Military Hospital in Tbilisi: Last year was the second time I became an IDP. First time was when the war broke out in Abkhazia in 1992. That year was the most horrifying in my life as I lost my mom in the conflict, who was pregnant with her ninth child. As soon as the situation calmed down my family returned to the village. Then I got married and moved to Tbilisi. But last year I divorced and got back to Kodori gorge with my two sons. After two months of peaceful life in the mountains, the August conflict started and bombs started to fall near my village. I had to flee again, this time with my children. When I arrived here in Tbilisi the first days were terrible, there was no food, no water, no beddings. CARE was one of the first NGOs to provide us with emergency items like food and hygiene kits. Later on we also received beds and mattresses. Now we do not receive anything. If not kind people and relatives, we would have died from hunger, as the humanitarian NGOs ignore our situation. The only thing governments officials are promising us are new settlements, where we can cultivate land and grew vegetables, but nobody knows when they will be built.