The United States is providing an initial two-hundred-fifty-thousand dollars in emergency assistance to Georgia to help people caught in the conflict between that country and Russia.
The funding, announced August 11th by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, will be used for relief supplies for as many as ten thousand people. "We are closely monitoring the situation," said USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore, "and stand ready to provide additional humanitarian assistance to help the people of Georgia."
In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi has released pre-positioned disaster packages, valued at one-point-two million dollars which contain emergency shelter supplies such as tents, beds, blankets, and clothing, and basic medical supplies. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that eighty percent of the population of the Georgian city of Gori, or some forty-thousand people, have been displaced by the fighting, while tens of thousands more have fled conflict-torn South Ossetia.
USAID has long provided development assistance to Georgia, focusing on such areas as the rule of law, economic growth, energy security, health and education. Since 1992, USAID assistance to Georgia has totaled approximately one-billion dollars. Specific projects have ranged from technical training to help reform the Georgian parliament and judiciary to rural economic development programs and improvements in the country's energy sector.
The Peace Corps has been working in Georgia since 2001, and two-hundred-twenty-five volunteers have served there to date. Before the current fighting began, nearly eighty Peace Corps volunteers were stationed throughout the country, working to enhance English-language training and the development of nongovernmental organizations.
This tragic conflict has already caused great suffering and hardship to the people of Georgia. The U.S. is working with its European allies to help mediate an end to the fighting and help those in need.