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3 Feb, 2009 09:49

Hope returns as South Ossetians rebuild

It’s almost six months since a devastating war shattered South Ossetia. But the new republic is bouncing back, restoring its shelled housing and healing its psychological wounds.

Before the war, Maria, a South Ossetian resident, had given her home a fresh coat of paint. But her efforts were in vain.

The house where she and her children lived is now a ruin.

However, her stoicism and her pride keep her going.

“My house may be broken but I should not cry. I must live for the future,” she said. “I must live for the future, for my children and for my Ossetia, Ossetian independence.”

The village of Khatygorovo, named after Ossetia’s best loved poet, bore the brunt of Georgia’s first attack. Ninety per cent of houses were damaged. One of them belonged to a farmer named Margarita.

Her village is close to a neighbouring Georgian one. But since the war brought her life crashing down, she is struggling to forgive her neighbours.

“We used to be civil to each other. Everything changed when they destroyed our houses,” she said. “We will never understand why they did this to us.”

In the six months since the end of the conflict, much repair work has been carried out. But the process is far from complete.

Although schools and hospitals are now piped up and are receiving gas heating, the majority of the population spent most of the winter deprived not only of this essential, but also of running water.

In the capital Tshinval many people are still living in temporary accommodation, where life is a struggle.

These war victims have yet to get any compensation from either the South Ossetian or Russian government. Still, hope is in the air.

Those in sheltered accommodation know that the Moscow government is building 500 homes in the Tshinval region. They are all hoping they get one of them.