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12 Aug, 2008 09:47

Fleeing from violence: more refugees to cross into Russia

Refugees from the fighting in South Ossetia are continuing to cross into Russia following the opening of a humanitarian corridor on Monday. 34,000 evacuees have already fled the conflict zone, while thousands continue to head for refugee camps in the neig

Others would like to leave South Ossetia, but are unable to do so, as the gunfire continues in several districts.

Thousands expected

Alagir camp is the closest to the South Ossetian border. It is a place where refugees are being gathered and sent to Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Rostov-on-Don.

According to Kazbek Vasiev, head of the Alagir region’s administration, almost 1700 refugees have already found temporary shelter in the camp. Many people from North Ossetia are coming to check if any of their relatives are there.

More then 3,000 refugees are expected in the next couple of days. About a thousand of them are reported to be wounded.

Black Sea resort gives shelter to 300

More than 300 Ossetian refugees have found shelter at the Russian Black sea resort of Anapa in the Krasnodar region.The local administration in Anapa provided transportation, housing, food and clothes for the refugees.

Russia says it is prepared to accept any amount of refugees from Tskhinvali on the Black Sea coast. For South Ossetia's women, children and elderly this is one of just a few places where they can feel safe and try to forget the horrors they've seen as Georgia bombed their homes.

One refugee, Elena Kozaeva, said: “We saw that our house caught fire too, but didn't know where to go. We were so scared.”

Elena's daughter, Salima, told how their grandfather, a 90-year-old man, is still in Tskhinvali.

“Grandpa is alive,” she said. “But there is no bread or any food. I think he is still sitting in the cold basement, hungry.”

Anapa is a traditional children's resort. Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov says it was a very emotional experience to see Ossetian kids too tired to smile, too scared, after what they had witnessed. Pakhomov says local people are doing their best to help the refugees.

“We understood that children spent a lot of time on the road,” he said. “We had to immediately wash and feed them, and then put them to bed. We very quickly accommodated the kids, in the matter of half an hour.”

Nobody in the camp knows what is going to happen after they spend a month here. Everyone is hoping that the tragedy in Tskhinvali will never happen again – and that Georgian leaders who ordered the bombings of South Ossetia will be made to pay.

Salima Kharobova, a refugee, said: “On behalf of me, personally, and on behalf of the people of Ossetia, I appeal to the president and the prime minister of the Russian Federation to acknowledge us, to acknowledge South Ossetia, and deliver us from these fascists.”

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