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Minister for IDPs optimistic

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, December 31
On December 30th Koba Subeliani the Minister of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia (MRA) presented his annual report for 2010 to the media. Introducing the MRA action plan for 2011, the Minister spoke of the achievements made by the Ministry in 2010. 22,000 IDP families (10,000 in Tbilisi, others within the regions) have already received legalized apartments in 2010 as the Georgian President had promised. “IDPs have been given 277 residencies in Tbilisi and 343 in the regions. Moreover, rehabilitation activities including electrification and gasification have also been ensured for people who used to live in total darkness,” Subeliani stated.

200 million GEL have been spent on rehabilitation activities for 228 compact and 58 carcass residencies while an additional 60-70 million GEL is still needed to fully end the distribution of regional compact settlements, including a block of 32 flats in Poti, 10 in Tskaltubo, and 52 in Batumi, which will supposedly be finished by the end of 2011. In total, 5,347 families who preferred living in houses rather than blocks of flats received the relevant compensation in 2010 and started cultivation. 120-130 square kilometers at Akhmeta, Tetri Tskaro, Tsalka, Akhalkalaki, Dmanisi, and other regions is quite a large area for starting small entrepreneurial activities. Stressing that the carcass residencies in the regions will soon be remade into apartments, Subeliani stressed that none of the IDPs will remain without a shelter. “I understand well that some of them may prefer Tbilisi to regions but it is physically impossible,” the Minister told the media.

All the IDPs affected by the Abkhazian war in 1990s according to Subeliani, have been fully satisfied with their homes in Tbilisi, while the part of those affected by 2008 Georgian-Russian war have remained homeless due to their illegal invasion of private property. “Invasions won’t be legalized by the Government and we will protect both the rights of the private owner (oppressed by IDPs) and ensure the provision of IDPs with alternative shelters,” the Minister said explaining that compensations only refer to people affected by military confrontations not those who left their homes before anything would have happened to them. “Thus, people who don’t match a particular set of criteria can’t be assisted by the MRA. We have been praying for the life of the IDP who burnt herself several weeks ago near the Ministry. We explained to her that we couldn’t re-shelter her in Tbilisi. The rumors that people from MRA had humiliated her, is complete slander. We covered her treatment and prayed for her life. Doctors said she had regretted doing so but nothing could have avoided the tragedy,” Subeliani added.

The Messenger's question whether there where any particular shortcomings within the MRA or if everything had been ideal for 2010, Subeliani answered that the political fever in Georgia had caused some mistakes but the MRA as any other state office, revived after the Rose Revolution in 2003. “We had to start everything over again in 2003 – it’s a real miracle that we have already made so many achievements!” Subeliani told The Messenger hoping that something would change one day and everyone would return to their homes.

Analyst of conflict issues, Paata Zakareishvili called Subeliani’s report “a total lie” and described 2010 as “the shameful year.” Encouraging the IDPs to create a political party and protect their rights themselves, Zakareishvili told The Messenger that 70% of IDPs live in the worst conditions. “If the MRA is blaming people for invading private residencies, were these homes private during the local self-government elections when the authorities needed their votes? I have seen the places that the MRA is offering these people and believe me, they are useless. Moreover the compact settlements given to IDPs are also in bad shape and need rehabilitation,” the analyst told us. Stressing that nothing can be achieved through street protest rallies, Zakareishvili advised the desperate IDPs to bring in individual actions against the Government so that the whole world can see how oppressed they are.