As the conflict in Georgia continues, European nations and aid organizations are reaching out by sending aid in the form of food and medicine. But with civilian casualties rising, what they really need is more access.
The Red Cross said it is difficult to reach people outside of refugee camps
Aid is arriving in Georgia from all over the world in response to the ongoing war in the Caucuses. The German government has announced that it will spend 1 million euros ($1.5 million) on humanitarian aid. France on Monday sent 30 tons of humanitarian supplies to the Georgian capital Tbilisi by plane for victims of the conflict.
Europeans trapped in Tbilisi as a result of the unrest were also allowed to use the 250-seat plane to fly out to Paris, a memorandum from the French Foreign Ministry said. The relief flight contained, among other things, tents, blankets, beds and containers. The supplies are to be distributed to those affected by the French aid agency Premiere Urgence.
Additionally the World Food Program (WFP) told the Associated Press it had started distributing food to help thousands of people displaced by the conflict.
Fighting continues as aid groups try to help those affected by the war
The UN agency said over the weekend it handed out 10-day food rations to some 2,000 displaced people living in Tbilisi. The WFP, based in Rome, is planning to continue the distributions on Monday, mainly for people outside the capital, although these individuals were harder to reach because of Russian airstrikes.
The number of people in need of help is rising by the hour, WFP Georgia country director Lola Castro said in a statement.
Castro said so far, 2,750 displaced people had been registered in Tbilisi alone. But she added that many more people were living with relatives or in unofficial shelters.
The UN's High Commission on Refugees said its first plane with supplies for Georgia would take off on Monday with a second flight scheduled for Wednesday. The two flights would carry supplies for a total of 30,000 people.
The agency's High Commissioner Antonio Guterres also approved the release of $2 million from the UNHCR's emergency reserve to cover possible immediate needs in the region.
He also made a call for humanitarian access and safe passage for uprooted civilians.
"We have mobilized our financial resources and our humanitarian resources. Airlifts are starting with relief items to be able to help people. But we need to be able to get to them," he said.
Civilian casualties on the rise
The Red Cross has announced that it was getting increasing reports of civilian casualties from the conflict and beyond, and that it was preparing to fly in 15 tons of medical supplies.
The humanitarian situation remains very serious, Dominique Liengme, the International Committee of the Red Cross' (ICRC) head of delegation in Georgia, told the AFP news agency.
An ICRC assessment team that managed to visit the Georgian town of Gori has confirmed that many people have fled.
"We are also hearing reports of widespread displacement throughout the region," Liengme added.
Gaining access to South Ossetia was a priority for the ICRC, which has been unable to move around or distribute assistance due to the intensity of the fighting. They are continuing to call for unimpeded and safe access to all areas affected by the conflict, said Liengme.
A chartered flight will leave from Geneva early this week with medicines, medical supplies, material for a water treatment plant and distribution tanks that could hold safe drinking water for around 20,000 people, said the ICRC.