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17 Aug, 2008 17:08

South Ossetian refugees strive to go home

The reconstruction of the South Ossetian capital is being hindered by mine clearance works, according to Russia's Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoigu, who said it may take weeks to make all the ammunition safe. Meanwhile, refugees continue to return to the

There is currently no water and electricity in the city, but local officials claim that the water supply will be restored within days.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry says it could take over two years to completely rebuild the capital Tskhinvali after the city came under siege from the Georgian military.

More than 1,700 Russian emergency workers are helping civilians recover from the bombardment of the South Ossetian capital.

The scale of devastation in Tskhinvali is enormous, but the focus remains on the rescue and recovery operations.

Sergey Shoigu said that every day 120 tonnes of essential provisions and building materials are being delivered to Tskhinvali. A working bakery has been set-up so that there is some fresh bread in the city.

The injured are being treated at mobile hospitals and a special group of psychologists are driving around the city trying to offer support.

“The key task now is to transfer all refugees from temporary camps in North Ossetia to stationary facilities. We should also have to set up a humanitarian centre in Tskhinvali to hand out aid, to pay compensation for the lost property. We need it so that people can live there in normal conditions, so that they can be provided with food and medical help,” Russia’s Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoigu said.

While the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali is attempting to return to some kind of normality, there are other locations that have also suffered from the Georgian attack. A number of South Ossetian villages were battered by severe strikes – with some of them turning into ghost towns.

Many local people are suffering severe psychological traumas. Some have even lost their ability to speak after all they have been through – witnessing their houses having been bombed and relatives killed.

To watch more about South Ossetians and Russians mourning the dead, please follow the link

Meanwhile, more than 37,000 refugees who have fled the conflict zone, applied for temporary accommodation in Russia. All of them continue to receive humanitarian, medical and psychological help in North Ossetia.

One place which has thrown open its doors is a convent which helped victims of the Beslan siege.

The main flow of refugees has already been relocated to other regions of southern Russia, including Rostov, Stavropol, Krasnodar regions and the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Many refugees are also coming to temporary settlements in different regions of central Russia.

Russian resorts on the Black Sea have also given shelter to more than 300 refugees from South Ossetia. But they say they are ready to take about 2,000 more.

The majority who have already arrived are women and children who've lost their homes, and for many, also relatives in the brief war.

Despite the destruction in South Ossetia, all the refugees say they plan to return home.

Many have been placed under the temporary care of psychologists, with a number being treated for post-traumatic stress.

“We try not to watch news. But passing a TV-set we unintentionally hear a presenter’s voice and then strain to listen to what’s going on in our motherland. We arrived in Anapa in our pajamas. They’ve provided us with all necessary things like nappies for kids, shampoo, detergent and other stuff,” said Yana Papieva, a refugee.