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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Georgia

UNHCR Fundraising Reports, 1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Monitor refugees and internally displaced persons; provide emergency-relief assistance in the Georgia-Abkhazia and Georgia-Ossetia conflict zones; offer rehabilitation assistance in South Ossetia and government-controlled areas of Georgia; coordinate work with development agencies and other humanitarian organizations; and build the capacity and confidence of governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to assist in voluntary repatriation, reconciliation and reintegration.

Who we help

Some 280,000 internally displaced persons from Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Georgia including 40,000 persons displaced during 1998 in western Georgia. Of these 40,000 persons, some 10,000 represent a new caseload while 30,000 are persons who had spontaneously returned to Gali and been displaced for a second time.

Our requirements

US$ 9,005,755

Our offices

Tbilisi, Zugdidi, Gali, Sukhumi.

Mobile Teams in Tskhinvali, Gori.

Our partners

Ministry for Refugees and Accommodation, South Ossetian Committee on Migration and Nationalities (SOCMN), Abkhazian Committee for Refugees, International Rescue Committee (IRC), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Acción Contra El Hambre (ACH), Save The Children Alliance, Nuova Frontiera, The Committee of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, Agricultural Co-Operative Development International, UN Volunteers (UNV), Georgian Young Lawyers' Association, Children's Fund in South Ossetia, Charity Humanitarian Centre "Abkhazeti", Dawn Foundation, UN Association of Georgia, Peace and Accord, Public Interest Protection League.


Since Georgia became independent in 1991, the country's efforts at state-building have been interrupted by secessionist movements in three autonomous areas. Two of the three areas have erupted in open conflict. Fighting in South Ossetia in 1991, followed by conflict in Abkhazia during 1992 and 1993, resulted in mass displacement of ethnic Georgians, Ossetians, and Abkhazis, as well as Russians, Armenians, and other ethnic minorities. In addition, the Government is confronting the legacy of the 1944 mass deportation of Meskhetians from Georgia to Central Asia. Their return is now the subject of discussion among several international and European bodies, including the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations.

Georgia has one of the highest rates of economic growth in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); and the Government has proven its resolve to uphold democratic principles and foster reconciliation with the aim of maintaining the territorial integrity of the State. However, two assassination attempts on President Eduard Shevardnadze in 1995 and 1998, as well as continued tensions between the Government and opposition elements in western Georgia, fuelled unrest up to early 1998.

Protection and Solutions

In 1999, UNHCR will continue to provide support to both the United Nations-sponsored Georgian and Abkhaz conflict-resolution process and the OSCE-sponsored Georgian and Ossetian conflict-resolution process. UNHCR supports the government's policy for the return of all of its citizens, including Meskhetians and Georgians of various faiths and ethnicity. Thus, legal and material assistance and capacity-building programmes will be launched, in cooperation with other national and international agencies, to support government reconciliation processes. Emphasis will be placed on monitoring internally displaced persons and promoting their access to full citizenship rights, while ensuring their participation in the resolution processes of the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts. As Georgia and the States adjacent to it suffer from ethnic fragmentation, regional contingency planning remains crucial.

UNHCR will work with OSCE, Council of Europe, IOM and other interested agencies towards a durable solution for the Meskhetians. The primary objective will be to prevent them from becoming stateless while ensuring their citizenship rights. UNHCR will continue to devote significant resources to capacity- and institution-building to support the rule of law. The agency will also lobby for adequate national legislation to combat statelessness and encourage State conformity with international laws and norms. Refugee status determination procedures will be promoted through capacity-building and training activities. UNHCR will also work intensively on the issue of the return of property, while assisting in the privatization of appropriate accommodation (hotels, flats, houses and dormitories) via credit provided by the World Bank. UNHCR will also help asylum-seekers obtain legal advice and social welfare assistance through its partnership with the Georgia Young Lawyer's Association; and the agency will maintain its voluntary repatriation programme for Georgian refugees from North Ossetia to South Ossetia and Georgia proper.

UNHCR supported the search for a durable political solution to the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict, based on the Sochi Agreement of 1992, by deploying a Mobile Team to the conflict zone in June 1997. The increased presence of UNHCR staff has led to better protection monitoring and humanitarian assistance, including the rehabilitation of destroyed housing and communal infrastructure, such as schools and health clinics, in ethnic enclaves. The Joint Control Commission (JCC), which includes representatives from Georgia, South Ossetia, North Ossetia, and the Russian Federation, is now refining plans for voluntary repatriation.

Prospects for Returns

The number of organized voluntary returns from the Russian Federation remains small compared to the number of spontaneous returns (of both internally displaced persons and refugees). Although government officials from both sides of the conflict have declared 1998 the 'year of return', obstacles to return have been imposed by some local authorities and mid- level officials. UNHCR will reassess the voluntary repatriation programme at the end of 1999. During the year, the agency will increase its capacity in government-controlled areas to better negotiate with local rural and urban authorities on behalf of the returnees and to monitor the returnees more effectively. Since one of the main obstacles to return is lower economic development and poor infrastructure in the rural areas of return, UNHCR will coordinate with development agencies, including UNDP, the European Union (EU) and the World Bank, to ensure that these peripheral areas are included in development programmes.

UNHCR will maintain a presence in Gali to monitor the condition of the population that remained in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone. UNHCR will also monitor the condition of spontaneous returnees to Gali. In western Georgia, UNHCR, in cooperation with development agencies, will encourage internally displaced persons to become self-reliant and integrate into local communities. It is understood that people who fled Abkhazia will not lose their property nor will they be denied their right to return.

Throughout 1999, UNHCR will strengthen its contingency planning. An assessment of the potential for influxes from neighbouring states, especially from the Northern Caucasus, will be conducted in cooperation with the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. UNHCR and the OSCE will also assess the potential for continuing unrest in the region with the intent of preventing or containing future population displacements.

Assistance in Western Georgia and Abkhazia

Since 1997, UNHCR had assisted spontaneous returnees in these areas by providing shelter materials, tool kits for income generation, and agricultural items, as well as by rehabilitating communal structures such as schools and hospitals. However, resumed conflict in Gali in May 1998, which resulted in the displacement of some 40,000 people from Gali to the Samegrelo region, has seriously affected UNHCR's programmes in Abkhazia. UNHCR will emphasize integration of internally displaced persons into local communities, as voluntary repatriation will not be possible until sufficient and credible security guarantees for the returnees are in place. UNHCR works to ensure that internally displaced persons have access to local registration, farm land and other facilities which will, in turn, ensure their rights to citizenship. In Western Georgia, especially in the Imereti region where displaced people from Abkhazia live, UNHCR will continue to support durable shelter rehabilitation programmes that provide families with some forty square metres of living space. The agency will also rehabilitate schools and work with UNICEF to ensure that school kits and school furniture (where possible) are supplied to all rehabilitated schools.

Assistance in South Ossetia and Georgia proper

The UNHCR presence and programmes fall within the Joint Control Commission (JCC) framework of conflict-resolution, under the auspices of the OSCE. The JCC remains the foundation for a political settlement, economic and social development, and security and provides the framework for the comprehensive return of refugees and displaced persons to South Ossetia and government-controlled regions in Georgia. Some 116 families (419 individuals) returned to South Ossetia from North Ossetia in 1998. Another 165 families are still waiting to return to South Ossetia. UNHCR will continue to promote self-help and community mobilization by building the capacity of local NGOs and communities so they will be able to organize and maintain rehabilitation projects after UNHCR has left the area.

Material assistance for the internally displaced population in Georgia also includes:

Health Care

In conjunction with local authorities and NGOs, UNHCR will develop a plan of clinic and hospital rehabilitation based on community needs in both Western Georgia and South Ossetia. UNHCR will work with UNICEF to ensure that basic medical items and medicines are supplied and that medical staff are trained.

Community Services

UNHCR will ensure that returnee and internally displaced children do not miss grades because of their displacement. The agency will also offer vocational training for adolescents. UNHCR and IRC have set up a community development programme, based in collective centres, that includes organizing children's play groups, informal education groups, and income-generation activities for women. Public awareness and education campaigns help internally displaced persons, especially women and children, benefit from existing services and facilities.

Micro-Credit Programme

UNHCR assists micro-credit programmes based on the group lending mechanism for those who are economically active in trading or other areas. The agency also finances IRC's Small Business Programme which provides training in business development and management and access to financial assistance to 50 small-scale businesses, run by internally displaced persons, in western Georgia.


UNHCR works to secure long-term access to arable land and provides credit for agricultural items and livestock depending on need, type of land and local conditions. The objective is to provide some income and food supplement for internally displaced persons to ease their reintegration. Female-headed households are given priority, as are large families, elders, and families with unemployed members.

Psycho-Social Rehabilitation

UNHCR supports five local NGOs, through United Nations Volunteers (UNV), which provide professional psychological assistance to war-affected internally displaced persons, particularly women and children. The local NGOs also help foster an attitude of self-help and self-reliance among internally displaced persons. In South Ossetia, UNHCR supports a local NGO, the Children's Fund in South Ossetia, which offers specialized assistance to particularly vulnerable returnees from North Ossetia and Georgia proper, and to internally displaced persons in Tskhinvali.

Special Services for Women

Internally displaced families who fled conflict in Georgia have remained mostly intact: either the nuclear family has survived, or, when the head of the family is missing, the extended family supports the core family unit. UNHCR has been funding various projects targeted specifically at internally displaced women so they do not become marginalized within communities. Since 1997, UNHCR has funded a Group Guaranteed Lending and Savings Programme. This is a micro-credit programme implemented by a local NGO, Constanta, through the Save the Children Federation. The primary objective of the programme is to provide access to credit to economically active internally displaced and local women. The programme has nearly 900 clients, benefiting nearly 4,000 household members and some 2,500 children. UNHCR is planning to expand Constanta's programme into the Zugdidi area.


In western Georgia, IRC is engaged in community development and informal school education at ten collective centres the organization rehabilitated. IRC has trained volunteer leaders at collective centres to organize play groups and/or study groups and provided recreational kits and school materials. In South Ossetia, the Children's Fund of South Ossetia identifies vulnerable children and provides food and humanitarian assistance on a case-by-case basis. UNHCR funds the UNV magazine, White Crane. The magazine, distributed throughout Georgia, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, offers war-affected children a forum in which to exchange views with other affected children and help them cope with their difficult circumstances.

In 1998, UNHCR cooperated with the Committee of Helsinki Citizens Assembly, various NGOs in Bulgaria, and UNHCR offices in Armenia and Azerbaijan, in organizing a joint summer camp for children and adolescents from conflict zones. In 1999, this camp may expand to accommodate more children from other countries in the Commonwealth of the Independant States. The goal is to provide psycho-social rehabilitation for war-affected children and adolescents. In addition to providing recreational activities, the camp offers peace education, negotiation-skills training, relevant lectures and an opportunity for children and adolescents to share their experiences and culture with others from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Budget US$

ActivitiesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support104,000
Shelter/Other Infrastructures2,438,614
Community Services314,908
Crop Production327,275
Livestock/Animal Husbandry95,000
Legal Assistance/Protection366,250
Agency Operational Support223,023
Programme Delivery Costs*2,899,817
Administrative Support Costs605,937

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.




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Displacement in Georgia

Tens of thousands of civilians are living in precarious conditions, having been driven from their homes by the crisis in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.

On the morning of August 12, the first UNHCR-chartered plane carrying emergency aid arrived in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the first UN assistance to arrive in the country since fighting broke out the previous week. The airlift brought in 34 tonnes of tents, jerry cans, blankets and kitchen sets from UNHCR's central emergency stockpile in Dubai. Items were then loaded onto trucks at the Tbilisi airport for transport and distribution.

A second UNHCR flight landed in Tbilisi on August 14, with a third one expected to arrive the following day. In addition, two UNHCR aid flights are scheduled to leave for Vladikavkaz in the Russian Federation the following week with mattresses, water tanks and other supplies for displaced South Ossetians.

Working with local partners, UNHCR is now providing assistance to the most vulnerable and needy. These include many young children and family members separated from one another. The situation is evolving rapidly and the refugee agency is monitoring the needs of the newly displaced population, which numbered some 115,000 on August 14.

Posted on 15 August 2008

Displacement in Georgia

Author Hosseini in Afghanistan

UNHCR Goodwill Envoy Khaled Hosseini visited Afghanistan in early September and saw first-hand one of the UN refugee agency's largest and most complex operations. During a 10-day trip, the best-selling author visited UNHCR projects and met returnees in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, Balkh, Parwan and Kabul. Hosseini, a former Afghan refugee now settled in the United States, noted that it would take time and effort for Afghanistan to provide returnees with adequate infrastructure and services. He urged the international community to remain committed to Afghanistan and to give the country time. Hosseini could not visit the south and parts of the east, where insecurity is impacting on the ability of UNHCR to assess needs and provide assistance to those who need it the most. Since 2003, UNHCR has helped more than 4 million refugees return to Afghanistan. This year, some 300,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Pakistan. More than 900,000 remain in Iran and 2 million in Pakistan.

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Afghanistan: An Uncertain Future

For over a quarter of a century, Afghanistan has been devastated by conflict and civil strife, with some 8 million people uprooted internally and in neighbouring countries. The overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 resulted in one of the largest and most successful return operations in history.

Seven years on, more than 5 million Afghan refugees have returned - increasing Afghanistan's population by an estimated 20 percent.The large majority have gone back to their areas of origin. However, some recent returnees are facing more difficulties as the country's absorption capacity reaches its limits in some areas. Last year, some Afghans returned before they were ready or able to successfully reintegrate due to the closure of refugee villages as well as the deteriorating conditions in Pakistan. In consequence, 30,000 Afghan refugees returned to further displacement in their homeland, unable to return to their villages due to conflict, lack of land, shelter materials, basic services and job opportunities. These challenges have been compounded elsewhere across the country by food insecurity and severe drought.

UNHCR and the Afghan Foreign Ministry highlighted the requirements for sustainable refugee return and reintegration at an international conference in Kabul in November 2008. The donor community welcomed the inclusion of refugee reintegration within the government's five-year national development strategy and the emphasis on land, shelter, water, sanitation, education, health care and livelihoods. It is anticipated that repatriation and reintegration will become more challenging in future.

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