The International Committee of the Red Cross is calling for the opening
of a humanitarian corridor in South Ossetia to make it possible for
medical personnel and ambulances to reach the wounded and sick. Aid
agencies report food and other essential goods are in short supply.
Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from ICRC headquarters in Geneva.
International Committee of the Red Cross says it is very concerned
about the humanitarian impact of the escalation of violence between
Georgia and the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
which has launched an offensive against rebel strongholds, claims to
have surrounded the capital Tskhinvali. Several civilians have
reportedly been killed, including Russian peacekeepers based in that
Red Cross spokeswoman, Anna Nelson, says it is too
dangerous for aid workers to move around freely, so it is difficult to
get an accurate picture of how many people have been killed and
"It is a situation where ambulances cannot move,
hospitals are reported to be overflowing, surgeries are taking place in
corridors, people are hiding out in their basements," she said. "There
is no electricity, no communications, no access to basic supplies. So,
it is a worrying situation. And, we also in addition call on all sides
to respect International Humanitarian Law and to not target civilians,
to ensure that medical transport and medical facilities can treat
wounded as necessary."
The Red Cross says combatants must
distinguish, at all times, between the civilian population and those
taking direct part in the hostilities. It says attacks that are
indiscriminate or directly targeting the civilian population, are
strictly prohibited under International Humanitarian Law.
meantime, the UN refugee agency says it is closely following the
situation in South Ossetia. It reports thousands of people are on the
move following a week of violent clashes between rebels and Georgian
UNHCR spokesman, Ron Redmond, says reports trickling out of South Ossetia paint a disturbing picture.
morning, a UNHCR staff member there reported that many buildings and
houses have been destroyed and that only military personnel are moving
on the streets. Water is also in short supply. That is a chronic
problem and it is being worsened by recent events. Most transport has
stopped and shops are running out of food," explained Redmond.
says hundreds of people have fled from South Ossetia to other parts of
Georgia. He says aid agencies in Georgia are monitoring the new
arrivals from South Ossetia and maintaining close contact with the
He says the governments of Georgia and the Russian
Federation are responding to the immediate needs of the recent arrivals
and have not asked for international assistance.