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Aid Already Flowing from MA to Georgian Refugees

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 By John Robinson/Craig Eicher, Contact
August 14, 2008

Cambridge, MA - As the crisis continues in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, one aid group with Massachusetts connections is already providing relief. Mercy Corps had been preparing to launch a program aimed at increasing interaction between ethnic Ossetian and Georgian youth, when the conflict began between Georgia and Russia.

Now, spokesperson Helen Thompson says, they've turned their attention to helping the thousands who have been driven from their homes by fighting.

"We are delivering packages of food, including rice, buckwheat, sugar and baby food. We're working with camps close to Tbilisi, and further south into Georgia."

Since Russia invaded Georgia a week ago, the Georgian evacuees number at least 50,000, according to government reports. They need many forms of aid, but Thompson says for people who want to help, the best way is to give money.

"When we are in an emergency state of operation, financial donations are the most efficient way to get essential items to people in need, quickly and efficiently."

Mercy Corps is an international humanitarian aid organization with offices in Cambridge. Thompson says they've been active in Georgia since the year 2000, mostly helping small farms become more productive and profitable, so the group was able to provide emergency aid almost as soon as the fighting began.

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