Georgia, a former Soviet republic of 3.8 million people in the Caucasus region that straddles Europe and Asia, is a key partner of the United States. It has made, as a percentage of its population, the highest contribution to the coalition missions in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, and it is a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.
Georgia was also the victim of a Russian invasion in 2008. Russia sent troops into the country to back a separatist movement in a war that claimed several hundred lives. The territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia remain in separatist and Russian hands. Some 200,000 Georgians were displaced by the conflict as well, becoming refugees to other parts of their country. Some or these refugees, or Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as they are known, remain in temporary settlements to this day.
A US Army team is working to address some of the critical needs of this group, understanding that underserved refugees living in austere conditions and grinding poverty can become susceptible to extremist ideology and influence (which has been a problem in other parts of the Caucasus). They are particularly concerned about three of the most isolated settlements near the border with South Ossetia, as these communities are the furthest away from government support.
During their initial assessments of the settlements, the team identified some key needs. The children in the camps lacked basic educational supplies, not to mention toys to provide some respite from their desperate situation. In addition, the schools and community centers in the camps needed a better solution to the winter cold, as their wood stoves were very unsafe and also emitted terrible pollution. Solving these problems would both address critical needs as well as help build relationships between the US team and the IDP communities.
With your help, Spirit of America can take care of these needs.