Red Cross Will Visit Detainees

GENEVA — Aid workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross, who have reached South Ossetia, will focus on visiting detainees and helping families trace missing loved ones, an ICRC spokesman said on Thursday.

An ICRC team is the only international aid organization to deploy so far in Tskhinvali, capital of the breakaway Georgian province, which is under Russia's military control.

But arriving late Wednesday, after waiting a week for security clearances, it found that Russia's emergency aid agency EMERCOM had taken charge of the relief effort in the city, providing medicines, food and water to civilians, it said.

"We are very happy to be here and to play our role, but we should have been here days ago. There are still needs, not only for goods but for expertise," ICRC spokesman David-Pierre Marquet said by telephone from Tskhinvali.

"We will concentrate our work on protection of the civilian population — tracing missing persons, restoring family links and visiting people who have been detained," he said.