Back from Armenia, with the Georgian evacuees

I’m just back from eight days in Armenia with international development agency World Vision. Our flight back was overbooked by 40 places, on account of the large number of Britons who fled the conflict in Georgia.

I intend to post a full report shortly. The trip was remarkable: a fact-finding tour which transformed my view of former Soviet Asia (or, as some maintain, former Soviet Eastern Europe). Sadly, the already grim situation in many parts of Armenia, which has never fully recovered from the 1988 earthquake and the collapse of the Soviet Union three years later, is likely now to get significantly worse. Georgia is Armenia’s sole route — apart from ruinously expensive air transport — for imports and exports. What is more, Georgia announced on Monday that it would be abruptly reducing shipments of Russian gas to Armenia. The situation in Georgia and its aftermath are a tragedy which is still unfolding, and this must never be forgotten. But we must also not overlook the knock-on effect on a nation which desperately needs to become economically self-sustaining.