Trauma of War Lingers
|Volume 12, No. 1
for Children in Georgia
Tschvarichamia, Georgia For the families forced to flee the war between Russian and Georgian forces six months ago, the villages they left in the region of South Ossetia can seem like Shangri La compared to crowded displacement centers. “We liked everything there, the weather, the fertile land,” says Nani, a young farmer’s wife from South Ossetia. “I would have stayed,” she continues, “but of course I had to leave for my children.” Her little daughter Tamar startles when a cell phone goes off, a response that began, says her mother, when she first heard the bombs.
Some 25,000 Georgians will not be able to return to their homes in South Ossetia. While some have been moved by the Georgian government into new housing, others must continue to live in cramped and temporary shelters.
“Whether they are adjusting to life in new settlements or continuing to live in temporary shelters, these families face enormous difficulties,” says Darejan Dzotsenidze, IOCC’s program manager in Georgia. “Post-traumatic disorders among women and children have increased tremendously with many suffering flashback episodes, insomnia and emotional instability,” she continued.
IOCC has been providing continuous assistance to thousands of displaced families throughout Georgia since the conflict began in August 2008. Through a $200,000 grant by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), IOCC assisted over 4,000 individuals by providing stoves, fuel for cooking, bedding and winter clothes. The Georgian Orthodox Church, IOCC’s long time partner in Georgia, helped identify needy families.
IOCC has also received funding from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN World Food Programme, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, to winterize collective centers where displaced families are housed, distribute needed food rations to villages affected by the conflict, and provide animal feed to small-scale farmers.
“We are investigating more ways to help these families,” says Dzotsenidze. “Psychologists and trained volunteers can provide activities for children such as art therapy, sports activities, and others, to help children recover from the traumas of displacement and to help prevent the development of unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse and violence.”