Landed in Tbilisi with the first two Military monitors. Our aim is to get the operation up and running. All OSCE members have been very generous in their pledges. Lots of APCs (armoured vehicles) and monitors in the pipeline.
Our programme is a bit up in the air, but we will start with a briefing at the OSCE mission. I will then talk to the Chief Military Observer, Stephen Young. We will also visit a refugee centre and possibly Gori. Will be updating the blog as things develope.
Briefing in the OSCE mission
In the car on the way to Gori. We are sitting in a convoy of 10 OSCE cars. The aim is to go Gori to assess the situation on the ground. We will be visiting a Red Cross distribution centre, among other things.
Just finished a briefing on the military, humanitarian and security situation. The briefing was useful. On the military side the withdrawal of troops is slow. The refugee situation is not good, but improving. The security situation is not ideal.
Visit to the refugee center
On our way out from Gori. On our way in we went through four Russian military check points. In Gori we met with the Red Cross, World Food Programme and the Governor of Gori. We also had a surprise visit from Major General Borisov who is the Commander of the 76th airborn division.
On the way to Gori
One piece of good news and two pieces of bad news. The good news first: humanitarian aid gets through unhindered with minor delays only. The Red Cross had been to Tshinvali today.
Bad news 1: on the roads and in the city there is very little evidence of the withdrawal of troops. I cannot assess what is going on in margins.
Bad news 2: civilian protection is shaky. We saw Russian Emergency Ministry troops bringing in Georgians from villages in South-Ossetia. These were old people from the village of Heiti. They carried all of their belongings. They were crying. The face of war is cruel, bloody cruel.
About to start a working dinner with the OSCE staff. Went directly from Gori to a refugee centre in Tblisi. Not a pretty sight.
Met with President Saakashvili, Speaker of the Parliament Bakradze, Prime Minister Gurgenidze, Europe Minister Baramidze and Minister Yakobashvili. We discussed the state of play.
I still feel that the ceasefire is frail. The crisis is not over. Important to keep up the international efforts to stabilize the situation.