U.N. Reports Over 118,000 Georgians Have Fled Fighting

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The number of people who have fled the fighting in Georgia has risen above 118,000, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday.

According to figures provided by governments in the area, some 45,000 people have fled from the breakaway province of South Ossetia, said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond. Two-thirds of them have crossed the Russian border into North Ossetia, and the rest have gone into other parts of Georgia.

The bulk of the displaced people are 73,000 Georgians who have remained in Georgia proper, Redmond said. Most of them had fled from the strategic Georgian city of Gori, just south of the boundary with South Ossetia.

UNHCR, one of the agencies that has been distributing relief supplies to people who have fled their homes in Georgia, has sent out 20 teams across the country to see how much more aid is needed, he said.

Three UNHCR cargo flights carrying more than 100 metric tons of relief supplies including blankets and kitchen sets — enough for 50,000 people — have been sent to Georgia, and two planeloads are planned for North Ossetia next week, Redmond said.

The security situation "remains a concern in some areas," highlighting the need for all sides to ensure safe passage, he said.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Georgian authorities are caring for 23,000 displaced people in 210 different locations, mainly schools and kindergartens in the capital, Tbilisi.

The Georgian government has told the U.N. that it is setting up a new camp for 500 people near the Tbilisi airport.