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Swiss told to leave Georgia

All Swiss nationals are being urged to leave Georgia following the outbreak of fighting in the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Those unable to afford to travel would be financially supported by the Swiss embassy in Tibilisi, the foreign ministry announced on Monday.

A bus carrying Swiss left Tibilisi on Monday afternoon for neighbouring Armenia. The embassy is in contact with Swiss nationals, of which 29 are residents, the ministry said.

A ministry spokesman said it was important to decide how to adapt Swiss development and humanitarian programmes in Georgia in light of the current crisis and orientate them towards urgent needs.

Georgia sent in forces last week to take hold of South Ossetia, a province that broke away from Georgian rule in the 1990s and has been de facto self-governing. Russia responded by pouring in troops to engage the Georgian forces and bombed targets within Georgia.

The Swiss-based International Committee of the Red Cross has described the humanitarian situation as “very serious”, with growing numbers of civilian deaths. It is preparing to send around 15 tons of medicine and medical equipment to Georgia.

Foreign ministers from the world’s leading industrial countries, the Group of Seven Nations, have called on Russia to accept an immediate cease-fire with Georgia and agree to international mediation.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR