IOCC Emergency Appeal: Conflict in the Caucasus

photo: Kazbek Bassayev/AFP/Getty Images

Baltimore, MD (August 8, 2008) — News services are reporting fierce fighting between Russian and Georgian forces in the disputed Caucasus region of South Ossetia. A Russian armored column was headed toward the capital of South Ossetia, a pro-Russian enclave, amid reports of some Georgian cities being bombed, including the capital city of Tbilisi, and Russian aircraft being shot down. Residents of the disputed region are reportedly fleeing into both Russia and other parts of Georgia.

“We regret the loss of life on all sides and the escalation of this long standing conflict,” said International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Chairman of the Board Alexander Machaskee. “IOCC stands ready to offer unconditional assistance to all who have been caught in the crossfire, and we fervently pray for those affected and an immediate cessation of hostilities,” he continued. IOCC has released emergency funds and mobilized its staff to respond to the growing refugee crisis through its local partners.

The presence of Russian troops in South Ossetia represents a major acceleration of this long term conflict that dates back to 1992 when separatists ended a war with Georgia and achieved a de facto autonomy.

IOCC’s first humanitarian mission was to Russia in 1992. It began providing emergency humanitarian relief to Georgia in 1994 when more than a quarter of a million people were displaced due to separatist fighting.

To help in providing emergency relief, call IOCC’s donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622, make a gift on-line at, or mail a check or money order payable to “IOCC” and write “Conflict in the Caucasus” in the memo line to: IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429.

IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented over $275 million in relief and development programs in 33 countries around the world.