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UN expert welcomes new opportunities for internally displaced persons in Georgia

Thursday, June 20
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, called for an integrated approach to address the situation of all internally displaced persons including those displaced in the early 1990’s and in 2008, and ‘eco-migrants’ displaced by natural or human-induced disasters, at the end of his five day follow-up visit to Georgia.

Beyani expressed his sincere gratitude to the Government of Georgia for inviting him for a follow-up visit from 10 to 14 June 2013, and for its continuing full cooperation with his mandate. Beyani commended the ongoing commitment by the Government to improve the living conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were displaced in the 1990’s and providing durable housing to those that were displaced as a result of the 2008 conflict. However, he stressed that there is an urgent need to continue to improve the living conditions and livelihoods of internally displaced persons in some of the collective centers, for example those whom he visited at Kartli.

“New opportunities now exist for taking an inclusive integrated approach for all waves of IDPs, in the country in accordance with international standards contained in the 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. These include: the proposed revised legislation on IDPs; the realignment of the 2007 strategy on IDPs with the proposed law; the onset of a new registration exercise for all IDPs that should as well profile their vulnerability and needs, and inclusive policies being formulated by the Government in the fields of health, land, agriculture, education, and employment generating activities. I am assured by the commitment of the Government to ensuring that these new policies will target IDPs in improving livelihoods and combating vulnerability in the country, including that of IDPs with disabilities.”

The Special Rapporteur encouraged the Government to share information relating to these initiatives and other measures with IDPs, international partners, and civil society, and to consult with IDPs and enable their participation in decisions affecting them. “This is of utmost importance in establishing conditions and means for achieving durable solutions for IDPs in safety and dignity, based on their informed and voluntary choice of durable solutions,” he stressed.

“In addition, the full and effective enjoyment of the human rights of internally displaced women, in particular to land and property, is urgent,” Beyani said. “I therefore encourage the Government to address equal housing, land and property rights for internally displaced women in accordance with international standards,” he added.

Recalling the last visit of his predecessor, Walter Kaelin, Beyani considered that the search for durable solutions is still hampered by political deadlock. “I call upon all parties concerned to urgently reach a political solution to enable those internally displaced persons who wish to return to their areas of origin to do so voluntarily in safety and dignity,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“I regret that the placement of a fence along the administrative boundary line of the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia has the effect of depriving internally displaced persons and displacement affected communities of freedom of movement and livelihoods,” he stressed. In this connection, Beyani welcomed the recent decision of the Constitutional Court which declared that internally displaced persons from adjacent villages are entitled to the same rights as those from Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. He, however, also regretted that he was unable to visit Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.

The Special Rapporteur also expressed the hope that the donor community will continue engaging in providing funding and support for projects aimed at building livelihood opportunities and human rights based resilience for internally displaced persons. He called for joint efforts between humanitarian and development actors to that end and in the search for durable solutions.

“I am grateful to all my interlocutors, including the UN country team, representatives of civil society, and internally displaced persons for their willingness to share their experiences with me,” he said. During his visit, Beyani visited collective centers and settlements for internally displaced persons in the region of Western Georgia, including Shida Kartli and Poti, and held meetings with IDPs.

He met with the President of Georgia, the Chairman of the Parliament, the Chairman of the Supreme Court, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees, the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, the Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, the Minister of Agriculture, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, the State Minister of Georgia for Reintegration, the Chairperson of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of Parliament, the Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament, the Public Defender and civil society. In cooperation with the Norwegian Refugee Council, he addressed a seminar on protracted displacement.

The Special Rapporteur will present his conclusions and recommendations to the Human Rights Council at its 26th session in June 2014.