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The News in Brief

Friday, February 20
Davit Bakradze meets Georgian Diaspora in Tallinn

Chairman of Parliament Davit Bakradze has met representatives of the Georgian Diaspora in Estonia in the Embassy of Georgia.

Davit Bakradze described the present situation in the country to the Diaspora in detail and openly responded to their questions. As the Press Service of Parliament states, the questions were mainly about Russian-Georgian relations, Russia’s aggressive policy towards Georgia, the period after the August war and the challenges facing Georgia.

Davit Bakradze listened to the opinions and problems of Georgians living in Estonia. The meeting was attended by envoy Zurab Marshania. Citizens of Georgia emphasized the active work of the Georgian Embassy in Estonia, which was especially notable during the August war.

Before meeting the Diaspora, the Chair of the Georgian Parliament delivered a lecture at Tallinn University on the theme: ‘Challenges facing Georgia after the War and the Development of Democracy.’ Responding to questions from students, Bakradze described how Russia had planned the war against Georgia and how the war started. (Interpressnews)

Nine out of ten hospitals should be closed, says Minister

Healthcare Minister Aleksandre Kvitashvili has maintained that nine out of ten hospitals should have their licenses taken away. He stated this at the Parliamentary Healthcare Committee session while discussing the proposed 5 GEL health insurance programme.

If Kvitashvili withdraws the licenses of certain hospitals, MP Pridon Todua will assist him in this process. Todua stated at the same meeting that he has seen an operating room in one hospital where “even a dog couldn’t be operated on.” Todua believes that such hospitals should be closed and that this will improve the insurance system. (Interpressnews)

Georgian police arrest five citizens of Iraq

Five citizens of Iraq have been arrested for illegally entering Georgia. They had arrived in Georgia from Armenia and planned to fly on to Brazil via the Netherlands.

The illegal entrants allegedly did a deal with the Chairperson of the Georgian Pilots` Association, Merab Chelidze, whereby he would assist them. The Iraqis promised EURO 4,000 to Chelidze. (Rustavi 2)

Ministry donates gifts to soldier’s family The Defence Ministry of Georgia has donated presents to the family of a Georgian soldier, Giorgi Antsukhelidze. The body of this Corporal of the Fourth Brigade, who was considered missing until January, was identified via DNA analysis.

The soldier`s daughter was born on February 16. The infant, who has problems with her lungs, is being kept in the intensive care department of the maternity home. (Rustavi 2)

New NGO to take care of damaged families

Funeral rites were served for Georgian soldiers killed in the Russian-Georgian war at Sameba Cathedral today. Prior to the ceremony a new NGO - The Union of Parents of Fighters for Georgia’s Territorial Integrity - was founded. Members of the organization will seek to improve living conditions of the families of dead soldiers in the future.

“Our aim is to assist the families, provide material aid to them and promote their integrity,” Tengiz Otiashvili, the founder of the organization, said. The founders of the NGO handed over icons of St. George to 200 families of soldiers killed during the Russian aggression. (Rustavi 2)

New IDP assistance programme launched

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on February 18 launched a joint cash assistance programme for people displaced during the August 2008 crisis in Georgia.

The programme will be implemented with the support of the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), USAID and other donor organizations, in collaboration with the Georgian Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation (MRA) and the Civil Registry Agency of Georgia (CRA).

Through a WFP-led direct cash transfer system, short-term financial assistance will be provided to those who due to the August conflict left their homes in the Tskhinvali, Java and Akhalgori districts as well as to the Kurta, Tikvi, Eredvi and Azhara communities and those who are currently registered within the Civil Registry Agency of Georgia.

The programme will be implemented during a three-month period from February through to April 2009. Beneficiaries will receive the following types of cash assistance:

- One-time assistance in the amount of 100 lari for purchasing winter clothes. UNICEF will provide this assistance for children under six years of age and UNHCR will target IDPs over 16 years old;

- Monthly cash assistance in the amount of 100 lari will be provided by UNICEF to purchase complementary food and hygiene items for displaced children up to 2 years old;

- Monthly cash assistance in the amount of 25 lari for complementary food items (including fruits, vegetables and dairy products) will be distributed by WFP to the whole caseload except children under 2 years.

The cash assistance will be provided in addition to the basic food items (wheat flour, pasta, vegetable oil, sugar, beans and iodized salt) regularly distributed by WFP.

Cash assistance will be provided through family bank accounts opened in the People’s Bank of Georgia. Each eligible family will receive a plastic bank card which will be issued to an adult female member of a family (when this is not possible, cards will be issued to the adult males). (The Messenger)