Ban urges parties to implement proposed Georgia peace plan

13 August 2008

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the acceptance by Georgia and Russia of a proposed peace plan to end the conflict that has raged in Georgia for nearly a week and urged the parties to move quickly to halt the fighting.

“He calls for immediate follow through in implementing the agreed principles, including the full end to hostilities and the withdrawal of forces to previous positions,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement, welcoming the plan proposed by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his support for a solution based on the full respect of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. He is prepared to use his good offices toward the restoration of peace and security in the region,” the statement added.

Heavy fighting began last Thursday in South Ossetia between Georgian and South Ossetian forces, with Russian forces becoming involved there and in the separate region of Abkhazia in north-western Georgia over the past several days.

UN agencies report that close to 100,000 people have been uprooted as a result of the conflict, with some having fled to other parts of Georgia while others moved to North Ossetia in Russia.

Today’s statement highlighted Mr. Ban’s concern about the humanitarian situation in the region, with the Secretary-General urging all parties “to provide full and safe access for humanitarian organizations to the regions affected by the conflicts.”

Two cargo aircraft chartered by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) set off for Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, today with 34 tons of high-energy biscuits for the displaced.

WFP said two Antonov 12 aircraft departed from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Brindisi, Italy. The biscuits will augment in-country food stocks which WFP started distributing over the weekend to thousands of people.

“The number of people in need of food assistance continues to escalate,” said WFP Georgia Country Director Lola Castro, adding that more than 10,000 people were now registered as displaced.

Many of the displaced people have no access to cooking facilities, and the high-energy biscuits require no preparation.

WFP will distribute 2,300 rations today, with more planned for the following days. The agency has been providing 10-day food rations to more than 4,500 displaced people living in shelters in Tbilisi.

It has also identified bakeries near areas where internally displaced persons (IDPs) have concentrated, and the agency will supply wheat flour to make bread for distribution to the displaced.

WFP is coordinating food assistance and offering logistical support to other humanitarian organisations, drawing on capacity from its existing operation in the country.

Before the crisis erupted, WFP was providing food to more than 212,000 people, mainly poor rural communities, as well as primary schoolchildren, tuberculosis patients and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Yesterday a humanitarian airlift – chartered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – arrived in Georgia, bringing 34 tons of tents, jerry cans, blankets and kitchen sets for those in need. A second UNHCR flight is scheduled for today.

 

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Georgia: UN calls for protection of civilians and access to victims of conflict

A senior United Nations humanitarian official has urged the parties to the conflict in Georgia, where fierce fighting in recent days has uprooted nearly 100,000 people, to do their utmost to protect civilians and ensure access for aid agencies.