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Georgia still caring for its IDPs, says Minister

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, February 17
There will be no homeless IDP families in Georgia in a couple of years, Koba Subeliani, the Minister of Refugees and Resettlement of Georgia, said in his annual report to the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee on February 16.

“There is no practice of leaving Georgians out in the street in our country. The withdrawal of IDP families from their accommodation is a very rare event and only happens if the families are being sheltered in private buildings. In such cases the owners of the building have gone to court and a decision has been made, unfortunately against the IDPs. But still no family is in danger of being without shelter. The Government is actively involved in this process and takes full responsibility,” Subeliani stated, adding that the Government took a very political decision by refusing to privatise these buildings, instead giving them to the IDP families as their property.

However IDPs themselves report problems with accommodation. Merab Kasradze, an IDP from the village of Kekhvi who attended the committee meeting, said that he had addressed both the Commission and the Ministry by letter a year ago regarding the compensation offered to enable IDPs to buy their own flats. “My family has been waiting for this compensation for quite a long time. They all say it’s a gradual process without stating the exact time when it will be completed. So I decided to listen to the Minister today and find out the reason for the delay,” he said. Gia Arsenishvili, the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, said that out of over 2,000 letters sent to the Committee in 2009, 175 were from IDPs. He also explained that such letters were collated by theme and sent to the Ministry of Refugees for further discussions.

“We want to receive answers to our questions about the IDPs from Didi Liakhvi Gorge and the other villages. The rehabilitation and privatisation of collective buildings is a very important issue,” MP Dimitri Lortkipanidze stated. “Why is the whole responsibility to monitor the situation put on one particular organisation and not the Government itself?” he asked, saying that this process may cause problems. “We are talking about a project involving hundreds of thousands of lari. This whole issue should be thoroughly investigated to avoid any further complications,” he added.

The main priority of the Ministry of Refugees for 2010 will be to provide families with private apartments. Koba Subeliani gave a brief introduction of the projects carried out by the Ministry in 2009, saying that nothing could have been done without the support of donor organisations. Subeliani highlighted that all communal expenses have been fully covered by the Government. He presented a statistical database showing that all problems will be fully dealt with in 2010. The Deputies discussed how to improve the living conditions of IDPs in the future.

“The problem of IDPs has been the most burning issue in Georgia since the 1990s. Unfortunately nothing has been done for those families, but the Ministry has managed to reduce the number of discontented IDPs, even for a while. The Ministry will do everything it can to shelter all families. Rehabilitation work costing around GEL 350 million was carried out in 2009 for this purpose. 10,550 families from Abkhazia were given ownership of their apartments. About 7,000 families have been settled and 1,400 families compensated in 2009 but this process will continue in 2010 as the main priority of the year,” said Subeliani, adding that donor organisations had approved the Government's action plan for the IDPs. He highlighted that not only the victims of the August War but those of the Abkhazian War in the 90s will be financially supported by the Government in 2010.