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OSCE to boost South Ossetia presence

Switzerland will send up to eight unarmed military observers to Georgia as part of a mission with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The OSCE would increase its presence in the buffer zone between the former Soviet republic and its breakaway region of South Ossetia by 20 to 100 personnel, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

“The security situation in and around South Ossetia is calm but tense and unstable, so armed incidents may continue to occur,” the ministry said in a statement.

Switzerland for years headed the UN observer mission in Georgia’s other troubled region, Abkhazia, and currently has two police officers and four military observers there. It has already been engaged in the OSCE’s peace mediation efforts in South Ossetia, the foreign ministry said.

Russia has informed the United Nations of its decision to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Also on Wednesday the Swiss government said it had allocated SFr9 million ($8.2 million) for victims of the conflict in the Caucasus. SFr7 million would go towards direct humanitarian aid and the UN World Food Programme, and SFr2 million was earmarked for a Caucasus aid programme, which was being drawn up.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR