Conflict and Relief, UMCOR in Georgia
NEW YORK, August 12, 2008—The United Methodist Committee on Relief in Georgia is serving as the lead coordinating agency for medicines and medical supplies being provided through US Government-sponsored emergency airlifts to the conflict zone. This South Caucasus nation has been engaged in conflict over the contested region of South Ossetia since August 7.
As a member of the United Nations Health and Nutrition Coordination group, UMCOR Georgia is heavily involved in organizing and distributing much-needed supplies. UMCOR is also providing health kits to displaced people as well as assisting local hospitals by distributing needed medical supplies housed in its Tbilisi warehouse.
UMCOR Projects Affected
South Ossetia, the area under attack, is a long-conflicted region along Georgia's border with Russia. While UMCOR has no current projects in South Ossetia, UMCOR's USDA program operates in the province of Shida Kartli along the southern border of South Ossetia.
George Gedevanishvili, head of office for UMCOR Georgia, is working with UMCOR staff to carefully balance the need to keep personnel safe while providing assistance. Some of UMCOR's operations near the conflict zone have been halted. UMCOR's work in areas unaffected by the violence continues.
"Our team was profoundly disturbed by the escalating crisis and the impact on the civilian population," said Thomas Dwyer, UMCOR's director of operations for its non-governmental organization, of the changeable environment in Georgia. "Responding to immediate needs in the first days of an emergency such as this requires a great deal of flexibility," explained Dwyer. UMCOR's staff in Georgia is actively engaged in these activities, which Dwyer described as responding to immediate localized needs as well as conducting comprehensive assessments to map out a broader response in the days ahead.
"Our current hope is for the cessation of hostilities to be permanent to allow for addressing the emergent civilian needs," Dwyer added.
UMCOR staff at the New York headquarters is in close contact with the office in Tbilisi to provide support and assistance as important decisions are made in response to the conflict.
About UMCOR in Georgia
UMCOR began humanitarian operations in Georgia in 1993 to address the basic health needs of women and children. The work of this office has grown since its inception to add agriculture and reconstruction to its work throughout the country.