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New homes at their old homes for IDPs

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, May 27
On May 25 the “single warm rooms” in the villages of Tirdznisi and Ergneti close to South Ossetia, built to shelter people returning home after the Russian-Georgian war last August, were officially opened

A total of 392 one-room cottages have been built in 30 villages in the Shida Kartli region for 1,600 returnees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) through the Danish Refugee Council and Care International, as part of a project funded by the European Union. The cottages have been built next to the destroyed homes of people affected by the events of last August, in order to assist their return to their places of origin. The IDPs participated in their construction and later, when their houses are rebuilt and their families can move back into them, they will decide for themselves how the cottages will be used in future.

This project, entitled “Improvement of IDP Living Conditions in Georgia,” costs EURO 9.7 million, a sum contributed by the European Union. “The EU was very quick in mobilizing assistance to Georgia after last August’s events. The European Union continues to support Georgia in post-crisis recovery and development efforts. UNHCR expertise and the EU financial assistance of EURO 9.7 million target issues of IDP settlement and the improvement of their living conditions, as agreed with the Georgian Government,” Head of the European Commission Delegation to Georgia Ambassador Eklund stated at the ceremony.

The project is being implemented in two phases and will benefit 6,500 IDPs and returnees. Apart from building these small shelters, Phase I of the project also involves the winterization of collective centres in Tbilisi, Shida Kartli and Western Georgia. This has been done by four of UNHCR's implementing partners: the Danish Refugee Council, Care International, the Norwegian Refugee Council and International Relief & Development. The second phase of project implementation began in spring 2009 and involves the rehabilitation of more collective centres in Western Georgia which will provide permanent shelters for IDPs displaced since the early 90’s as well as IDPs returning to the Gali region.

At the opening ceremony UNHCR Representative in Georgia Dr. Peter Nicolaus praised the Georgian Government for its comprehensive strategy for finding long-term solutions for IDP problems. He thanked the European Union for providing funding for this much-needed programme for displaced people, many of whom are very vulnerable and in desperate need of assistance. He also emphasised that “efforts to facilitate IDP integration into local societies does not undermine their right to return to their places of origin in dignity and safety.”

The ceremony was attended by Georgian Minister of Refugees Koba Subeliani, who confirmed that the land on which these cottages have been constructed will become the property of the refugees who fled their homes during the August Russian intervention. The Minister said that it is most important that the IDPs have returned to their homes, even though they are in new cottages, and that this land will now be given into their possession.