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Arguments erupt over IDP assistance

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, June 30
The second of the three days of discussion of the action plan of the Ministry of Refugees and Resettlement was held at the Hotel Courtyard Marriott on June 29. It was dedicated to the social and healthcare elements of the action plan, which proved controversial.

On 19 May 2010 the Council of Ministers endorsed the revised IDP action plan for 2010, which elaborates the state strategy on IDPs. It is based on three main principles: 1. providing IDPs with worthy living space, 2. the social and economic integration of IDPs and 3. the provision of necessary information to IDPs.

Independent researcher Martin Naughton said that there are some serious problems which should be given more attention in the action plan. "There is limited drug availability and no physical treatment component in the action plan. There are also serious difficulties in giving information to IDPs, Naughton said. In response Kakha Kheladze from the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs said that there would be no special programmes for IDPs alone as too many other people in the country faced the same problems as IDPs and it would not be right to assist only one part of society. Furthermore, if IDPs became continually dependent on Government assistance it would their integration to the wider community difficult, Kheladze said.

Liana Beria, from the Consent IDP women's association, found this statement unacceptable. "I do not think special social and healthcare programmes for IDPs should be stopped, as unlike the rest of society they have particular difficulties, which do not affect others in the same way. These include psychological problems, which may reoccur after a time and for which one course of treatment is not enough, heart conditions and so on. Skin problems can be added to this list at present too, as baths were built in the settlements where IDPs are living now but there is a water supply problem and no one thought about who would pay the electric bills. Who will pay for the hot water? This is no time to leave IDPs without dedicated state assistance," Beria said.

Discussion of the action plan is ongoing and will conclude on June 30. The authorities state that suggestions and comments made at the conference will be taken into consideration.