Ten days after a war between Georgia and Russia had ended,
Russia announced the creation of a Buffer Zone on Georgian territory between
Gori and Tshinvali. Neither NGOs nor Georgian police were allowed to enter the
security zone and more than 50 Georgian villages were left at the mercy of
Ossetian paramilitaries and militia.
Soon, this area became a ghost place: houses were burned and plundered, and the dead bodies of villagers laid in gardens or basements. Still, some of the elderly have remained, either too old to move, or to protect their houses from being destroyed. For more than two months these people lived in permanent fear of being harassed by militia, without electricity and drinking water. At the same time, their families, almost fifty thousand, fled from their villages and remained stranded in camps and schools.
One year after the war, less than half of the buffer zone inhabitants have been able to return to their homes. The new border with South Ossetia has been established and the atmosphere continued to be tense. Gunshots could be heard almost every night, and thousands of cluster bombs laid untouched in gardens and fields. Permanent lack of water supply destroyed crops, the only income for villagers. Once the wealthiest part of Georgia, the district of Gori has become a land of despair and poverty.