Georgia: Providing aid in a climate of insecurity

  • International staff: 5
  • National staff: 51 Insecurity has been a constant in Georgia over the last year. In June 1999, due to a deteriorating security situation, MSF left South Ossetia, where it had been running a tuberculosis (TB) program in Tshkinvali. MSF continues to supply the city's central TB clinic and 15 hospitals with drugs, and the MSF medical team based in Tbilisi, the capital, monitors consumption. Unfortunately, South Ossetia remains an isolated enclave and the public health services lack the means to fully pursue the anti-TB program. In Abkhazia, MSF continues to work in the central TB hospital in Sukhumi, treating patients using the DOTS strategy. This program has expanded to include five regional polyclinics where patients receive follow-up treatment. For about 3,000 mainly isolated and older patients, MSF offers basic health care at the Pushkin Center, an MSF health center in Sukhumi. People come to the center every day for social as well as medical attention. Although currently under the direction of MSF, it is hoped that it will eventually be reintegrated into the Abkhazian health system. In addition to its work at the Pushkin Center, MSF distributes essential drugs to 38 hospitals, clinics and healthposts throughout Abkhazia. Chechen refugees seek shelter in Georgia Up to 10,000 Chechens fleeing the war had sought refuge in neighboring Georgia last fall. From the onset of the influx until the closing of the border by Georgian authorities in December 1999, MSF gave emergency assistance to refugees at the Zinvali border crossing. Most of the refugees then regrouped in the Pankishi Valley, where their needs have been met by the ICRC, the UNHCR, the Red Cross Federation and MSF. MSF set up a system to refer patients with serious injuries to hospitals in Akhmeta, Telavi and Tbilisi. The organization also runs a mental health program for children ages 6 to 12. Insecurity prompted MSF's withdrawal from the Pankishi Valley, after three workers from the International Red Cross (ICRC) were kidnapped. They were eventually released, and the MSF program continued, led by a local team. MSF has been working in Georgia since 1993.