Georgia - the dress rehearsal for Ukraine ..already suffering from once ina century floods and a very nasty gas bill shock due at New Year....
Elisabeth Byrs of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that “The situation on the ground (in Georgia) is deteriorating, sparking a significant movement of population”. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that more than 2,000 people have died in the first week of fighting and nearly 100,000 have been uprooted from their homes.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has been operating for the last 8 years in South Ossetia region, implementing health projects from its local office in Tskhinvali.
They report that according to UN estimates there approximately 56,000 displaced persons inside Georgia, of which more than 40,000 are from Gori. An additional 12,000 residents of South Ossetia have been left homeless inside Georgia, while 30,000 others have crossed into Russia’s North Ossetia region.
The UN also reports that 1,000 ethnic Georgians from the upper Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia, a region by the Black Sea that borders Russia, have become displaced following violence there.
Because many areas under conflict remain inaccessible, the number of (Internally Displaced Persons) IDPs is expected to rise. Food, water, shelter, and medical supplies are becoming difficult to find, intensifying an already difficult situation for local residents.
In Tbilisi, there has been a rapid influx of displaced persons fleeing the fighting , which has strained the city’s food supply, medical, and shelter capacities, ADRA plans to provide medical assistance to those affected.
A major disaster - the worst floods for a century in Ukraine
All the while this is going on in Georgia there has been virtally no reporting of the flooding and subsequent destruction in prospective NATO ally Ukraine, when between July 23 to July 26, massive storms hit western Ukraine, forcing thousands from their homes, and submerging hundreds of towns and villages. Nearly 40 people have been listed as either dead or missing since the onset of the storms, which government officials say are the worst storm to hit Ukraine in a century.
According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Emergency, more than 422 miles (679 km) of highway and motor roads and more than 900 bridges were destroyed in the storms. This has left more than 300 towns and villages without electricity, downing communication lines, and blocking food access routes throughout five regions of western Ukraine.
The floods , mainly from the Prut, Dniestr (15 metres above its normal level) and Seret rivers have submerged 40,600 homes and over 84,000 acres, (34,000 hectares) of farmland in western areas - some reports claim over 100,000 acres.
The regions of Ukraine most affected are Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Transkarpatsky, Ternopil and L’viv. In Ivano-Frankivsk alone, 50,000 are suffering from the impact of the floodwaters. Heavy floods have also hit neighbouring riparian areas of the Dniester River in Romania and Moldova. In the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, three people were found dead after being swept away by floodwaters, an Interior Ministry official said. Two drowned when they became trapped under cars while trying to cross a flooded road. Another was found under a bridge.
The authorities in Romania said that four people had died and more than 11,000 been evacuated.
The flooding has hit the Ukraine local farming economy and (OCHA) report that flooding in the Ivano-Frankivsk region has destroyed as much as 75 % of planted crops causing an estimated US$80 Mn. loss according to Deputy Agriculture Minister Serhiy Melnyk.
President Viktor Yushchenko on July 30th declared a 3 month state of emergency in western Ukraine.
The Ukraine Government are watching events in Georgia very closely and at a ceremony today granting 72 housing orders to the military in the Novohrad-Volynskyi garrison ,Defense Minister Yurii Yekhanurov said,"149,000 servicemen are enough to guarantee sovereignty and security of our country." Hmmm.
On the 31st July , the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) - which is a NATO body, received an urgent request for assistance in coping with flooding from Ukraine.
Their latest SitRep is dated August 7th and they confirm 36 people, including 8 children died, 2 are missing and about 500 people have been injured. They list the EAPC (EU basically) countries who have contributed to an appeal for equipment - Austria, Czeck republic, Greece,Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Belgium, Estonia, Spain and Switzerland - something been overlooked here by Messrs, Brown, Benn and Milliband ?
If the UK Government want to help they can contact The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre can be reached in the following ways:
Fax : +32-2-707.2677
Mobile Phone: +32-475-829.071
or they could have a look at them on the Internet website thingy here - http://www.nato.int/eadrcc/home.htm or perhaps have quick look at the manual "NATO’s Role in Disaster Assistance"
" ....the capabilities to protect our populations against the effects of war could also be used to protect them against the effects of disasters. As early as 1953, following disastrous North Sea floods, NATO had an agreed disaster assistance scheme. By 1958, the North Atlantic Council had established procedures for NATO coordination of assistance between member countries in case of disasters."
Given the circumstances in Georgia you might have thought that even those not on holiday in Whitehall might lend a hand to Ukraine if only in solidarity to NATO. If only to get some practice in when the Russian Bear decides to cut up rough in East Ukraine.
Just a thought.
PS : See Friday, August 15, 2008 Could Ukraine Become Russia's Next Target? @ Kiev Ukraine News Blog. "Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko prohibited ships from the Russian Black Sea Fleet that are engaged off the Georgian coast from returning to port on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula without Kiev's official permission.....Russia's Black Sea Fleet, which leases naval facilities in Sevastopol in Crimea, will likely steam back to port in defiance of a Ukrainian presidential order that it must first ask for Ukrainian permission."If Russia openly challenges Ukrainian sovereignty, I think that Ukraine will then turn to the West and say, 'you know guys, they're challenging our sovereignty with their fleet."
And this will happen without any kind of use of arms, or anything made in anger.
PPS : January 2009 Ukraine is committed to begin paying Russia’s Gazprom in the range of US$400 per 1,000 cubic meters for natural gas or US$22 billion per year. Presently the country pays US$179 per 1,000 cubic meters, or US $9.9 billion per year.
Viktor Yanukovych, is the leader of the opposition pro-Russian Party of the Regions - who have kept quiet about the price increase - Gazprom and the Kremlin might be tempted to play the “gas card” in order to see Yanukovych elected and to gain control—if not direct ownership—of the Ukrainian trunk gas pipeline, a long-time objective of Russian policy meant to give Gazprom the ultimate say over the largest supply route of Russian gas to Europe.
With a possible debt of over US$10 billion by late 2009, the new Ukrainian government could be forced to sell the pipeline to Gazprom by writing off most of the accumulated debt — as well as a substantial part of its industrial base, maintain the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and renounce its intention to join NATO.
... if it is cold in December ...
I you see Sid (or Gordon or Hilary of the Boy David )..tell 'em.
PPS - want to know more about Pridnestrovyaian Moldova Republic and their contacts with South Ossetia ? See Volunteers from Pridnestrovya leave for South Ossetia 8th August 2008 2008