Beginning of the Meeting on Providing Humanitarian Assistance to the Population of South Ossetia 2008-08-09 16:12:28 The Kremlin, Moscow President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: In connection with the act of aggression committed by Georgia against the civilian population of South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers, there are many complex humanitarian problems that we must deal with, in accordance with our mandate and simply in light of our duty as a nation. Today we must consider how to provide assistance to the civilian populations and to the wounded, including, of course, medical assistance, immigration issues, and think about how we can accommodate refugees. We also need to look at the way the situation develops in a comprehensive way, given that it is a very difficult one. And I would like to hear each of you report on what you have done and the suggestions you have on how to overcome existing humanitarian problems. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin: Dmitry Anatolyevich, in accordance with your orders yesterday to the government cabinet we have held several meetings to provide humanitarian assistance to victims in South Ossetia. We have organized two facilities: a central headquarters in the Emergencies Situations Ministry [ESM] and in Vladikavkaz, where the representatives of all relevant ministries, departments and regional authorities have assembled . Yesterday we sent the necessary supplies — I am referring to the fact that a hospital has been deployed by the ESM, to which we have sent the necessary medications and first aid. Virtually all regions are prepared to receive victims. Primarily, of course, these regions are located in the Southern Federal District, but today there are initiatives from Moscow, the Moscow region and other regions, and they have already started receiving refugees. In the past few days, as of the second or third [of August], more than twenty thousand people have made requests to the Federal Migration Service. Only in the past day and a half more than thirty thousand people have crossed the border. We really have a humanitarian catastrophe on our hands. All refugees who contact us receive due assistance and have been reserved a place in children's camps, in places of temporary residence. Not one person has seen their request denied. I think that Sergei Kuzhugetovich [Shoigu] has more information to report. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu: Today the situation is as follows. We have started to allocate people to temporary accommodation in the Southern Federal District. To date twelve regions have the capacity to accommodate three and a half thousand people and this work continues. I think that by the end of the day we will have the capacity to house ten thousand people in permanent accommodation. In addition, we have deployed tented accommodation for two million people near the border points. The situation is compounded by the fact that at present there is no water in Tskhinvali, in practice the water and sewage treatment plants have been destroyed. I am referring to those facilities used for treating water, drinking water. In light of this fact we are putting together a shipment for water purification. Given the lack of electricity, I think that today by 4 pm we will deliver generators to Vladikavkaz, and by the day to Tskhinvali. We have set ourselves the task to determine the power necessary to run the systems that support civilian life by 12 o’clock — I am referring to things such as medicine, water facilities again, and businesses engaged in baking bread. The hospital which said Sergey Semenovich [Sobyanin] mentioned has been deployed, set up, and is ready to receive victims of the fighting. There is a need for additional medications and doctors, but I think that Tatyana Alekseevna will better be able to talk about this. We can add to this the fact that already last night a substantial amount of food and disposable items were shipped off. By 4 pm today we will have brought together more than 100 tonnes of different cargoes and this work continues. If necessary, we are ready to double that figure in the course of the day. Director of the Federal Migration Service Konstantin Romodanovsky: We have been working in a situation that is constantly deteriorating. We are in control of the situation and we are helping citizens, despite the fact that many come to us with virtually no documents — documents have been lost, gone missing, or been burned. Nevertheless, the migration service is providing assistance in this regard. We created infrastructure for migrants — there is a working group deployed in Vladikavkaz and in the centre as well. We are keeping track of the situation. Citizens are deployed in 10 so-called residence centres, namely schools and technical colleges. The majority are staying with relatives. The situation is under control and we continue to conduct our activities. Dmitry Medvedev: Are you ready for complications or any additional problems? Konstantin Romodanovsky: We are ready. Dmitry Medvedev: Tatiana Alekseevna, what is happening with medication and other supplies? Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova: Dmitry Anatolyevich, in addition to the information that Sergei Kuzhugetovich [Shoigu] already reported, today literally by 12 o’clock a regular EMS plane, carrying 6 tonnes of cargo provided by our Russian Centre for Medical Disasters, Protection, will be dispatched: its cargo includes a hospital with 12 resuscitation places to be deployed and other supplies which have been calculated for about 10 days. The second plane will carry about another 15 tonnes of cargo: bandages, analgesics, suture materials and so on — everything that is needed, such as blankets. And the third plane will contain teams of doctors who will work on location. Furthermore, we have sent relevant professionals who can assist in organising medical care and providing social assistance, because it is not only the health Ministries of the republics of the Southern Federal District that are involved in this, there are also other bodies of social protection working on these issues. Indeed, we now have organised them all, and all the regions of the Russian Federation who are nearby are working on this, and providing necessary places to relocate people. As a rule, we have placed refugees in social institutions, in schools, and in kindergartens — in short, we are doing everything possible to ensure that people in this situation feel comfortable, if I may put it that way. Dmitry Medvedev: Our challenge now consists in helping overcome the consequences of this humanitarian catastrophe, and naturally on all those fronts that you just mentioned. And those responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in South Ossetia should be brought to justice, including before international law.