Georgia: Internal displacment estimate rises

Briefing Notes, 12 September 2008

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 12 September 2008, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Based on detailed profiling of internally displaced persons in Georgia that was just completed by the authorities in cooperation with UNHCR, the statistics on displacement associated with the August conflict over the breakaway region of South Ossetia have been revised. They show that a total of 192,000 people were forced to flee their homes, including 127,000 displaced in Georgia proper; 30,000 within South Ossetia; and another 35,000 to North Ossetia (Russian Federation).

Of the 127,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Georgia, 68,000 have since returned home. UNHCR and the Georgian government estimate that another 5,000 will go home before the onset of winter, bringing up the number of returnees to 73,000.

As for the remaining 54,000 IDPs, UNHCR estimates that 23,000 will need to be provided with alternative shelter through the winter months, but will be able to return home in 2009 once their houses have been rehabilitated. However, the remaining 31,000 individuals are not expected to return in the foreseeable future. They originate from South Ossetia (22,000); from inaccessible parts of the so-called 'buffer zone' (8,000); and from Abkhazia (1,000). Given that Georgia is already hosting 223,000 IDPs from previous conflicts, this new population will in the longer term leave the country with a total of 254,000 internally displaced people.

In another development, UNHCR in cooperation with the Georgian government is now putting an end to spontaneous relocations of IDPs from the capital of Tbilisi to the overcrowded tented camp in Gori, which is already packed with some 2,200 people. Over the past week, several busloads of IDPs arrived spontaneously every day at the tented camp in Gori, claiming that they would rather stay in there than be relocated within Tbilisi.

In the Georgian capital, authorities are currently vacating schools and sending IDPs to alternative accommodations so the school year can start. However, some IDPs refuse to be relocated and spontaneously leave for Gori, where many of their relatives and neighbours are accommodated. However, Gori is filled to capacity and UNHCR prefers to reserve remaining tents in the camp for IDPs who were placed with host families who can no longer support them.

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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

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

During Sri Lanka's 20-year civil war more than 1 million people were uprooted from their homes or forced to flee, often repeatedly. Many found shelter in UNHCR-supported Open Relief Centers, in government welfare centers or with relatives and friends.

In February 2002, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire accord and began a series of talks aimed at negotiating a lasting peace. By late 2003, more than 300,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their often destroyed towns and villages.

In the midst of these returns, UNHCR provided physical and legal protection to war affected civilians – along with financing a range of special projects to provide new temporary shelter, health and sanitation facilities, various community services, and quick and cheap income generation projects.

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

Myanmar IDPs pick up the pieces in Rakhine state

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding across Myanmar's Rakhine state, where some 115,000 people are desperately in need of aid after being displaced during two waves of inter-communal violence in June and October 2012. The displaced, most of them ethnic Rohingya, have sought shelter in temporary relief camps and others remain scattered across the state, living under tight security in their destroyed villages. Conditions are harsh: the camps are overcrowded and some lack even the most basic of sanitation facilities while many of the villages are totally destroyed and running low on water. In one village, more than 32 families were living cheek-by-jowl in just two large tents. The children have no access to education and the newborn and elderly are in a very vulnerable position due to a lack of medical facilities. UNHCR is distributing relief supplies and working with the authorities and partners to improve camp conditions, but international assistance is required.

Myanmar IDPs pick up the pieces in Rakhine state

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