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MRA explain wave of IDPs eviction

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, January 24
The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia (MRA) released a special statement on the IDPs eviction in Tbilisi. According to the information provided by the Ministry, the IDPs housed in the buildings can be conventionally divided into different categories. In particular, the buildings accommodate IDPs from the private sector who have never been provided with accommodation by the state, persons displaced following the August 2008 conflict who are waiting for compensation instead of a cottage, and IDPs who are registered in other facilities of compact accommodation.

On January 21, MRA explained that the 22 buildings served as temporary shelters for the IDPs and they had been relocated from the accommodations illegally occupied by them. Learning of the cases of IDP families in cooperation with partner organizations, the MRA revealed that not all of the IDPs living in temporary shelters were in need of accommodation as some of them have already been provided with the State support. “Namely they have been given privatized accommodations or provided with financial assistance. Those families that have been provided assistance once cannot be assisted for a second time,” the statement said explaining that the IDPs have been offered rehabilitated or newly constructed spaces in which to live in various regions of Georgian in the frames of theAction Plan on the implementation of State Strategy with minimal living standards for durable housing solutions elaborated and approved by the Steering Committee.

According to the information provided by the Ministry, the much talked of buildings in Tbilisi are not the centers of collective accommodation of internally displaced persons thus the eviction has been proceeding in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) developed by a working group in September 2010 and later approved by the Supervisory Council. This process has been monitored by the Georgian Public Defenders Office, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM).

In a special statement on the new wave of eviction released by Public Defender Giorgi Tugushi, the ombudsman recommended the MRA to take all the necessary measures to provide the IDPs with adequate accommodation, to protect their rights and take their interests into consideration. He promised that his office would continue monitoring the process of eviction/resettlement of IDPs. The monitoring of alternative accommodations for IDPs carried out by the Public Defender’s Office in January 2011 showed that the rehabilitated facilities in the village of Potskho-Etseri, Tsalenjikha District, the villages of Lesetchine and Zumi, Chkhorotskhu District, the village of Abashispiri, Abasha District, and the village of Torsa-Dgvaba, Khobi District are far from administrative centers and lack infrastructural development. It is not clear yet whether agricultural land will be given to the IDPs and it is not clear whether projects supporting employment will be carried out in the places of resettlement.

Tugushi explained that the adequate living conditions not only refer to building and accommodation but location of the dwelling. “A dwelling should be located in a place where not only jobs but also schools, kindergartens, medical centers and facilities for other social services are available. It is clear that resettlement is a painful process for IDPs thus the alternatives offered to them pose a serious problem,” he said calling on the MRA to strictly observe all the requirements and procedures determined by the law and the SOP and ensure IDPs with accommodation or provide adequate compensations for them.

The eviction of IDPs started on January 20 and was followed by protest rallies in front of the Parliament and President’s residential house in Tbilisi. Threatening to make radical steps the families relocated from their shelters reject moving to regions offered by the MRA due to bad living conditions. Conservative and People’s Parties in charge of the rallies encouraged the people to support them in protecting IDPs’ rights. Condemning the “brutal” eviction of IDPs, various oppositional parties and NGOs addressed the international and human rights’ organizations to consider the issue and impose relevant sanctions on the MRA.