World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

UN Security Council Meets Again On Georgia Crisis

Security Council holds another meeting on crisis in Georgia

10 August 2008 - The Security Council met today for the fourth time in less than three days to discuss the crisis engulfing Georgia, where large numbers of casualties have been reported as a result of fierce fighting between Georgian and Russian forces and thousands of civilians have been displaced from their homes.

The meeting took place after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement last night calling for an immediate end to the violence, voicing fears that the conflict was spreading beyond the South Ossetia region and the humanitarian toll was rising and urging all sides to seek a peaceful resolution.

B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed Council members on the latest developments inside South Ossetia, where the fighting first erupted on Thursday night, and in other parts of Georgia.

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet then briefed the 15-member panel on the situation inside Abkhazia, a region in the northwest where the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) monitors a separate 1994 ceasefire accord.

Mr. Pascoe noted that the UN had no first-hand information from South Ossetia and relied largely on media reports, mainly Russian, as most Georgian news websites appeared to be blocked.

He said there were conflicting media reports about whether Georgian forces were regrouping or withdrawing from South Ossetia, as well as reports that Russian forces were moving towards the city of Gori.

Quoting figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Pascoe said that at least 2,000 ethnic Georgians have fled South Ossetia and arrived in collective centres near the national capital, Tbilisi, and Gori, while others are staying with relatives.

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is expected to rise to as many as 20,000, according to UNHCR, while about 5,000 South Ossetians have already fled to the neighbouring North Ossetia-Alania region of Russia.

Mr. Pascoe said UNOMIG also confirmed that Russian aircraft have today bombed Georgian military and strategic targets outside South Ossetia.

Mr. Mulet told the Council "the situation in Abkhazia remains extremely concerning, with a military build-up continuing on the Abkhaz side of the zone of conflict, as well as bombings of [the] Upper Kodori Valley," including Georgian villages there.

Abkhaz forces have moved troops and heavy weapons into the zone of conflict over the past two days, he said, adding that UNOMIG has confirmed that the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force did not attempt to stop such deployment.

UNOMIG has withdrawn its 15 observers from the Upper Kodori Valley after Abkhaz de facto authorities informed the mission that their safety could no longer be guaranteed. An increase in bombings has also meant the mission has had to scale down its operations and is now conducting only essential patrols.

Mr. Mulet said UNOMIG has reported the ongoing build-up of both Abkhaz and Russian forces in an around the zone of conflict, but it has not observed major movements of troops or weapons on the Georgian side.

Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania told the Council that all Georgian troops had withdrawn today from the conflict zone in South Ossetia and a humanitarian corridor had been established for civilians. But he said the country's forces continued to be bombed and prevented from a full-scale withdrawal.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Mr. Pascoe's briefing showed that the UN Secretariat and its leadership could not be objective on this crisis, which he said was the direct result of Georgian aggression against South Ossetia. He said Russia had acted appropriately to defend civilians and its peacekeepers.

The Council met twice on Friday to discuss the conflict and heard a closed-door briefing yesterday from Mr. Mulet on the situation.

***

EARLIER

9 AUGUST 2008

Georgian conflict widening beyond South Ossetia, UN official warns

9 August 2008 - The deadly conflict in Georgia seems to be spreading outside the South Ossetia region and into Abkhazia, a senior United Nations peacekeeping official told the Security Council today, warning that the number of casualties from the fighting is already substantial.

Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed Council members on the latest developments in Georgia, where Georgian forces are fighting Russian and South Ossetian forces.

Media reports say hundreds of people, mostly civilian, have been killed because of the clashes, while the city of Tskhinvali in South Ossetia has suffered substantial damage. Thousands of people have fled into neighbouring North Ossetia or into other parts of Georgia.

Mr. Mulet told reporters after the closed-door briefing that there had already been "very substantial numbers of casualties, refugees and destruction" in South Ossetia since fighting erupted there earlier this week.

Council members have met three times over the past 36 hours to discuss the situation in South Ossetia, but so far they have been unable to reach agreement on any formal action.

Mr. Mulet said the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), which has been in place since 1993 to monitor the ceasefire deal between Georgia and Abkhaz authorities in north-western Georgia, said it expects Abkhaz forces to launch a military operation in the Upper Kodori Valley as early as tomorrow morning.

He said UNOMIG withdrew its patrols from the valley today for safety and security reasons after Abkhaz authorities contacted the mission and asked it to do so, without giving any reasons for the request. He added that Abkhaz forces have already started shelling in the valley.

UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have voiced serious concern as the violence has escalated, and stressed the need for the fighting to stop and for humanitarian access to affected civilians.

Yesterday Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania told a Council meeting that Russian forces had launched a "full-scale military invasion" of Georgian territory, with tanks and personnel entering the country and jets bombing airfields, military bases and villages.

Mr. Alasania called on Russia to withdraw its forces, to stop the bombing campaign and to negotiate a ceasefire, adding that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was willing to take part in dialogue with Moscow.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the meeting that it was Georgia that had carried out "a treacherous attack" on South Ossetia, in violation of a 1996 agreement ending earlier fighting between the Georgian and South Ossetian sides and in spite of Russian calls for negotiations. He called on the Georgian forces to withdraw from South Ossetia.

Mr. Churkin said Georgian forces were bombarding towns, including those outside the immediate conflict zones, and had created panic among the civilian population, many of whom were now trying to flee to safety.

***

8 AUGUST 2008

Security Council meets again to discuss violence in South Ossetia, Georgia

8 August 2008 - The Security Council met this afternoon for the second time in 24 hours to discuss the deadly violence wracking South Ossetia, Georgia, where hundreds of people are reported to have been killed and thousands of others are now on the move, seeking shelter from the fighting.

The Council held an open meeting to discuss the crisis following earlier consultations among members, after holding an initial late-night meeting last night in the wake of the escalating clashes between Georgian and South Ossetian forces.

Georgia's Permanent Representative, Irakli Alasania, told this afternoon's Council meeting that Russian forces have launched a "full-scale military invasion" of Georgian territory, with tanks and personnel entering the country and jets bombing airfields, military bases and villages.

Mr. Alasania called on Russia to withdraw its forces, to stop the bombing campaign and to negotiate a ceasefire, adding that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was willing to take part in dialogue with Moscow.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said it was Georgia that had carried out "a treacherous attack" on South Ossetia, in violation of a 1996 agreement ending earlier fighting between the Georgian and South Ossetian sides and in spite of Russian calls for negotiations and a ceasefire.

Mr. Churkin said Georgian forces were bombarding towns, including those outside the immediate conflict zones, and had created panic among the civilian population, many of whom were now trying to flee to safety.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced serious concern yesterday at the mounting violence, and UN agencies report that the situation has only worsened since then, with rising numbers of civilian deaths and injuries.

Today the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) joined their voices to calls urging all sides to show restraint and take steps to prevent any further casualties.

OHCHR called on all sides "to safeguard the rights of displaced people and refugees, including through the creation of safe passages for them to leave conflict areas," according to a press release issued in Geneva.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) is also closely following the situation, saying that Russian border officials informed the agency's sub-office in the southern Russian city of Vladikavkaz that people have been arriving in North Ossetia-Alania, in Russia, throughout the night.

"Authorities say thousands of people have arrived from South Ossetia to North Ossetia-Alania this week," UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.

UNHCR's office in Vladikavkaz is in daily contact with the authorities and following the situation closely, he said, adding that the Georgian and Russian Governments are responding to the immediate needs of the recent arrivals and have not asked for help.

Reports are "trickling out" of South Ossetia, and a UNHCR staff member has reported that many buildings and houses have been destroyed and that only military personnel are moving on the streets.

Mr. Redmond said that water is also in short supply - a chronic problem worsened by recent events - and that most transport has stopped and shops are running out of food.

In addition to those that have crossed over the border into Russia, some 400 people are believed to have moved from South Ossetia to other parts of Georgia. UNHCR staff in Georgia and their partners are monitoring the new arrivals from South Ossetia and maintaining close contact with the Georgian Ministry of Refugee and Accommodation.

UNHCR's operations in the country focus on more than 275,000 people, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) linked to the separate conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless people and returnees.

***

ENDS

Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives | RSS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: