Conflict in Georgia: Is there an end in sight?

August 12, 2008

Five years ago I took a course entitled “Russia in Crisis.” At that time we were discussing the Georgian conflict. When I read the headlines on Russia and Georgia now, I can’t help but think, still? After years of bombs, tanks, and soldiers there has been no resolution. Call me an idealist, but when combat hasn’t solved anything over this amount of time, it is time for concessions and negotiations.

The violence has caused a mass exodus of people from Southern Ossentia, the current center of conflict in Georgia. The United Nations refugee agency states that approximately 100,000 people have been uprooted from the area. As mentioned in a previous blog, research shows that women are disproportionately vulnerable during war and disasters because of factors related to gender discrimination. The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children notes that the neglect of reproductive health during emergencies is particularly concerning for refugee women. The lack of support and aid regarding the issue leads to serious consequences, such as preventable maternal and infant deaths, unwanted pregnancies and subsequent unsafe abortions, and the spread of sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS.

As someone who has lived their entire life in the United States, I can’t imagine what life is like for these women as their families, friends, and homes are torn apart by constant violence and warfare. As the opposing factions and governments engage in political struggles, it is the civilians of the area that are truly paying the price for the conflict. I hope that soon the dominant powers will be able to overlook politics and strive for reconciliation on behalf of people who are simply looking to live their lives in peace.

Look here to find out how you can help refugees in dire need of food, shelter, water, and safety.

By:   |   August 12, 2008

1 Comment

  1. Kathleen says:

    I have been coordinating a program in Iowa and Minnesota the past three weeks that involves ten men and women from Georgia. When they first arrived they all talked about how George Bush is their good friend, and would always be there for them. These are highly educated people — principals of schools, national ombudsman, national broadcast journalist. Its not surprising, however, since the US have been sending them more military aid than to any other country than Israel and Turkey, and President Bush visited them many times with all his charm on display. But they seemed to think that all this was because the US Administration wanted to support the people of the country. Did they really not think that the oil pipelines and the need for a “partner” in Iraq was the real reason?

    In the last few days they now have a new, more realistic understanding of why we have been their “friend” and what we would (or ever could) do for them. How realistic would it be for the US to directly use the military against Russia for the sake of a few million people? My heart ached for them when they arrived, and even more as events unfolded, as disillusionment is so very sad. And, in this case, lethal — one journalist in our group learned that two of his colleagues had been killed.

    Many American citizens and politicians are calling for America to “do something” although it is not often stated what the “do something” is supposed to be. An official predominant voice as personified by Sen. McCain, is that we need to go into the country of Georgia with bombs, while others such as his Sen. Obama talk about “diplomacy.”

    Fine. I agree with non-violent measures, but this situation got far out of hand beyond the point that talking can do much in the immediate situation. Yes, humanitarian aid is most appropriate and on the way, but that is all we can do now — our hands are tied. This is yet another situation that the policies of the last eight years has wrongly produced.

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