VIENNA, 18 August 2008 - At the request of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut visited Vladikavkaz on Saturday and Sunday to meet refugees from South Ossetia and make a first-hand assessment of the humanitarian situation.
"I was moved by the stories I heard first hand from the refugees," he said after meeting wounded people in the Central clinical hospital, and refugees in camps set up in the town of the Alagir region. "It is important to show compassion for all displaced people and refugees, regardless of background."
The Secretary General said his trip was about "collecting information about the situation on the ground and expressing support for the humanitarian efforts which have been deployed on short notice."
He will report back to Minister Stubb and to the 56 OSCE participating States.
The Secretary General had informal meetings with the President of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania Taimuraz Mansurov, Prime Minister Nikolay Khlyntsov, and his First Deputy Yermak Dzansolov, Parliament Speaker Larisa Habitseva, and representatives of the Russian Federal Migration Service.
"A wide range of issues need to be taken into consideration in order to address the future of the region and the future of the people affected by the South Ossetia conflict, including many historical, legal, geographical and political aspects, and, of course, the will of all the people of the region," said Perrin de Brichambaut.
At the same time, he stressed that all OSCE activities are conducted in accordance with mandates granted by the OSCE 56 participating States, and within a strict legal framework, which includes respect for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
He added it was crucial to deploy new monitors on the ground to get a "clear picture of the humanitarian situation and to help stabilize the security situation."
The OSCE Chairman-in-Office has proposed that the number of OSCE monitors be increased by up to 100 personnel as soon as possible. Efforts to finalize the arrangements for such a deployment are under way in Vienna.
The OSCE Mission to Georgia already has 200 staff, including eight unarmed military monitoring officers. The OSCE Mission has been present on the ground since 1992, with a field office in Tskhinvali since 1997. The additional monitors will be recruited from the OSCE participating States.
"The OSCE has a wealth of experience on the ground in the region, as well as the infrastructure and personnel," said the Secretary General. "We need to stabilize the situation, work fast to get back to dialogue and help tackle the humanitarian crisis."