ECHO mission visits IDP centre in Mukhiani
By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, October 23A group of about 20 people were standing in a queue early on Wednesday morning, waiting for food supplied by the World Food Programme. 75 IDPs, a portion of the thousands who fled the August military actions, are living in an abandoned, half-ruined building in the Mukhiani neighbourhood on the outskirts of Tbilisi. They say the flour, oil, sugar, beans and pasta they get every ten days from the WFP is the only help they receive now.
20,000 IDPs in Tbilisi, and 38,000 in the ‘buffer zones,’ receive food support from WFP. The organization began its emergency operation immediately after the eruption of the conflict, rendering vital food assistance to displaced persons and local population in conflict-affected areas.
Representatives of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), which has been the second biggest donor, after the USA, to the WFP mission in Georgia, have visited the Mukhiani communal centre for IDPs to observe the food distribution and find out the details of the project on site. Jean Claude Heyraud, Head of the ECHO Unit for Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, who came to Georgia to monitor the EU Humanitarian Aid process, personally met IDPs and heard their stories. Before going to Mukhiani Heyraud had visited IDP centres in Gori, Kaspi and Zugdidi.
“We are here to see how the mission is progressing,” Heyraud said. “We provided six million Euros in August and this amount was utilized to address the needs of the displaced population. We have been to the buffer zones and seen that people are living in houses which have not been rebuilt yet. Right now we are a little worried about the issue of coordination, and worried both about people who have gone back to their homes and those who are staying in temporary shelters,” Heyraud added.
50-year-old Dodo Maisuradze has been living in a small room at the Mukhiani communal centre with her six other family members for about 3 months. She left her home in the village of Kanchaveti in Akhalgori region in August. She said the living conditions in the former college are extremely bad, but she has no option but to be there.
“Conditions are unbearable here,” she said, standing with her 3-year-old granddaughter in the corridor, where it was raining just as it was outside, “but we have no other choice, we can’t return to our home yet.” Maisuradze said the WFP is the only organization which provides food for them. “We don’t get any other assistance. Of course this is not enough, but we are trying to make it somehow,” she said.
The representatives of the World Food Programme stressed the necessity of continuing the food assistance project. “Extending our assistance till next spring is absolutely necessary for the IDPs living in Tbilisi and the residents of the so-called buffer zones,” Iulon Tsilosani, WFP Reports Officer, said. According to the WFP officials, the organization will render food assistance to 100,000 IDPs, returnees and other vulnerable groups in the conflict-affected areas until the end of March 2009.