Fear and insecurity

Via the Telegraph:

The United Nations refugee organisation confirmed on Tuesday that while “destruction of buildings and houses is not as widespread as was initially feared”, Georgians still inside the occupied territory were living in fear.

“There is still a great deal of fear among the people currently residing in these villages,” a team of UNHCR officials reported.

“Beatings, looting and arson by marauding militias have created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity.”

The Daily Telegraph on Monday confirmed the findings after travelling behind Russian military checkpoints to villages near the South Ossetian boundary.

Six and half and miles inside the zone, the few remaining inhabitants of the village of Tkviav remain terrified of paramilitary South Ossetian militias.

One man hiding in trees by the roadside warned that the area was still unsafe amid continuing robberies and assaults.

“It has been chaos here,” he said.

“The Russians do not protect us. After their tanks went past the Ossetian militia came to rob and kill us. They murdered seven people here.”

Closer to Gori, Georgians are slowly returning to villages. In the Karaleti area, right on the boundary of the buffer zone, up to 80 per cent of the population has returned, according to the UN.

But Nani Kharibegashvili, who stayed in Karaleti throughout the conflict, is still frightened.

“We still do not feel safe at night when the militia are out driving in their cars. Everyone stays inside and hopes they do not come,” she said.

Her sister, Raisa, who has a daughter serving with Georgian military forces in Iraq, feels betrayed by the West.

“We have good relations with the West and the West should have done more to help us,” she said.

A Russian soldier, guarding the Karaleti checkpoint, claimed that he was sympathetic to the plight of local Georgians.

“It is not up to me, it is our chiefs. We would like to help and we feel sorry for people frightened of the militias,” he said.

The UN has estimated that 68,000 of 127,000 internally displaced Georgians have returned home under pressure to get the harvest in before winter.

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