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Georgian War Chronic, IDPs and What’s Next

25.09.2008
Shaking Fists at Planes in Samtskhe-Javakheti Region

Diary

Gulo Kokhodze, Akhaltsikhe

I did not hear the reverberations or sounds of bombs and nobody close to me died in the August war with Russia and nobody burnt or looted my house. However, I experienced my share of war in the village of Khevasheni in the Samtskhe-Javakheti.

My relatives died at the end of July in car-crash. Every morning starts with the memory of Nana and Irakli and every day and ends with the same sorrow. However, after August 7 nobody ever now remembers them.

I do not remember when I realized that the war had started. But when we threw away cold watermelon in the heat of summer without eating it; this was not the time to enjoy fruit when there was war in our country. At that moment I understood that the war entered my village but without bombs

August 7 2008

Urgent Appeal of the Georgian President

Dear compatriots,

“…of snipers are still targeting villagers. At this moment intensive fire is opened from tank artillery, batteries and all other possible means of weapons that were illegally moved into the conflict zone.”

Official Information

“In recent days the aviation of Russian federation continuously bombs Georgian territory, including the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Russian troops and large amount of military equipment are deployed on Georgian territory. A large number of civilians died during the bombing raids. The current situation can be escalated and the results will be drastic for such a little country as Georgia.” (www.president.gov.ge)

When the war started I started to worry about my cousin who is serving in the Georgian army. I knew that he would be serving on the front line. I call him a hundred times. The mobile phone was melting in my hands. My nerves were strained and somehow I managed to get  through to him. I heard a terrible noise.
-Where are you?-I asked
-In the hell!-he replied and I try not to burst into tears.
-Are you OK?
-Yes- giving short answers. The information is enough; luckily he is live. If there is not disaster, my cousin who had fought in Iraq, would not have replied to in such a tone. However, the war is always a disaster.

My four-year-old nephew cannot go to bed without prayers. In the morning she says her prayers protected us.

August 8 2008

Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch called on the parish to reinforce their prayers for peace.

“Georgian Patriarchate expresses deep concern over the current situation in Tskhinvali district. Reportedly there are casualties and wounded during the war situation, both in military units and among the civilian population,” it was written in the statement of the patriarchate (www.patriarchate.ge)

Services are held every evening in the church of the village of Varkhani in Adigeni district (church is not fully completed).

My family is sitting in front of the TV-set all days long. “Kurieri”, news program on Rustavi 2, shows the bombardment of the cities and you know that it is going on in your country; in Georgia.
  
My friend Thea Tedliashvili lives in Gori. I tried to call but Geocell does not work properly. I know that she is in Nikozi, in the monastery. I get through her phone number several days later. She is crying, though she is always calm and patient but now she is crying.

Poti was bombed!

My colleague Inga Gvasalia lives in Poti. I called her.

-Do you know what is going on here?! There are a lot of killed people; even corridors are overcrowded in the hospital. I have to take children to the village,” Inga said.

We are whispering at home.

My neighbor 22-year-old Iago Nergadze is corporal at Kutaisi Artillery Unit. He has not left his unit yet; in the village his pregnant wife is waiting for him with the family. The only source for their connection is to use the mobile phone.

My father lives in Russia; he is Russian citizen. During those days I he has not put down the telephone; he calls in every fifteen minutes and speaks in a calm voice with us. I know he pretends to be calm; I know before dialing the number my father coughs several times to clean his voice and not to sound worried. He wanted to calm us down.

Gori is being bombed!

In the peace of night the noise of planes is better heard. My neighbor told me “when I see planes flying I shake fists at them. I cannot do anything more,” everybody fights with enemy as s/he can.

On August 12 agreement of ceasefire was signed between Russia and Georgia.

We are all relieved but it was in vain…On August 13 a bomb was dropped in the center of Gori and eight people died as a result.

“There is no more bread or flour in the shops,” people are complaining in villages.

A friend provides me with information on my mobile phone. He had obtained information from Internet and I am happy because at least the Internet is working.

An irrigation channel was cut in July in the village. The channel was too deep, nearly three meters deep.

“Why did they spend money?” the villagers were complaining. However, the channel acquired a new function in August.

“We will not need to dig trench,” one old man joked.

A dead soldier was brought to the village of Enteerli in Adigeni district. He was only a child and grew up an orphan.

During that time my teenager neighbors did not listen to music even at a low music.

We could not hear the voice of children playing football on the football pitch

A wounded soldier was brought to our village too. Lasha Mamageishvili has two children and he is 25. He had not called his family for two days. Then wife found his name on the list of wounded on the wall of Ghudushauri Medical Clinic in Tbilisi.

“We have a hero in the village,” people said. Some people smiled suspiciously; others ironically. However, the point is that the every villager was coming to Lasha’s house; and brought delicious food to him.

IDPs! Internally displaced people in their own homeland…

The wave of IDPs started to arrive in Samtskhe-Javakheti on August 8. 10 207 IDPs were in the region and it made 1,174 families. 1,604 among them were under-age, up-to15-years of age; and 152 were babies of 1 year or less.

IDPs sheltered into the sanatorium “Aghobili” in Abastumani; and the villagers started to collect food. Politicians were doing their business but villagers actually did the job.

1,147 people lived in various buildings in Samtskhe-Javakheti district; 9 580 IDPs sheltered here with their relatives.

“We placed them in the hotels, sanatoriums and composers’ house in Borjomi. They live in the sanatorium “Aghobili” in Abastumani, in the boarding-school in Akhaltsikhe,” stated Ivane Gelashvili, the head of the department for the cooperation with state institutions and local self-governances.

At this moment, the majority of IDPs returned to their houses.

“206 adults, 25 babies, 1 orphan, 2 parentless children, and15 pregnant women; IDPs compactly resided only in Borjomi; 95 people live in institutions,” said Marina Gachechiladze, the head of Regional Development Department.

IDPs live in the boarding school of Akhaltiskhe. At the moment there are only 593 IDPs in the region and their number is being reduced with each passing day.

The estimated number of the districts of the region is the following: 300 are in Akhaltsikhe; 44 in Aspindza; 135 in Adigeni; 63 in Borjomi; 4-in Akhaltsikhe and 7 in Ninotsminda.

On September 8 2008 with the initiative of EU, as a result of the negotiations with Georgian and Russian sides, concrete steps were identified that must be implemented under the terms of a “6 Point Agreement” that was negotiated with France’s President Nikloas Sarkozi  

Based on the abovementioned agreement all Russian soldiers must have left Georgia before October 10, 2008 (besides the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia).

The war has finished but post-war situation is very painful too… We are still watching news programs with fear… I do not know how long it will continue….

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