Armenia + 2 more

The Caucasus - Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia: Emergency Assistance Situation Report No. 2

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A fully-funded appeal has allowed the entire programme to be effectively implemented over the July-September period. The positive donor response has also promoted productive collaboration between the respective National Societies and the International Federation.
appeal no. 01.40/99
period covered: July - September 1999

The context

Independence for each of the three Caucasus countries (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) has come at considerable social cost. The difficult transition to a new socio-economic system, begun in the early 1990s, has been compounded by the unresolved conflicts over Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia. As a result, more than 1 million internally displaced people
are unable to return to their places of origin. The conflicts continue intermittently, but remain largely unresolved.

The forecast of economic growth for the Caucasus (projected at 8-12% for 1999) depends on ongoing political stability. But there are numerous, complex elements which could cause disruptions in the tenuous stability in the region. The presence of a strong secondary or "grey" economy presents unique obstacles, and authorities in all three countries are unable or unprepared to effectively control the massive parallel economy which is based on bartering, demonetisation, pervasive corruption and disregard for law, all of which contributes to economic atrophy, chronic wage and social payment arrears, and large fiscal gaps year after year.

Widespread poverty in the Caucasus consequently continues, and the number of vulnerable persons is increasing. The future for the elderly, handicapped, displaced and other vulnerable groups in the Caucasus therefore appears grim.

In response to the situation, in the first half of 1999 the Federation concentrated on strengthening the capacity of each National Society. Relief and rehabilitation assistance has been increasingly linked to development activities.

The 1999 programmes focus on the need to provide relief assistance to the most vulnerable, but also reflect the need to further encourage self-sufficiency among vulnerable groups and National Societies, as the Federation's emphasis shifts towards the development of working structures and systems, as well as ensuring quality of service through better targeting and monitoring.

Adequate support from the donor community has allowed the Federation to effectively begin to address the following objectives established for the Caucasus:

  • Continue to provide food and non-food assistance, as well as rehabilitation and water supply services to the most vulnerable groups, primarily focusing on displaced persons;
  • Continue to meet the minimum health and social welfare needs of the most vulnerable;
  • Continue to focus on the capacity building (population movements, first aid, income generation, information, institutional and resource development) of each National Society within the context of their strategic planning;
  • Further expand the scope of disaster planning and preparedness capacity in the region.
Latest events

Armenia

During the reporting period the situation in Armenia on the whole continued to be stable. The economic recovery of the country is progressing, although the effects of this are not directly improving the lives of the vulnerable.

The political situation remained calm. Meetings related to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue took place between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the results of negotiations were reported to be successful.

Some 82 HIV carriers or AIDS stricken people are being treated in Armenia with Armenicum, an experimental drug developed in the country. With the assistance of the UN AIDS Awareness Programme, special guidebooks dealing with AIDS prevention and treatment have been published both for medical professionals administering Armenicum treatments and for the public at large.

The Lincy Foundation has begun funding loans under its USD 100 million Entrepreneurial Lending Programmes. The four initial commercial loans mark the first step in Lincy's programme to foster the development of small and medium size enterprises in Armenia.

The Government is implementing a programme on developing Armenia's agricultural processing sector jointly with Andre Group Co. of Switzerland. The cost of the programme is over USD 6 million, and includes supplies of equipment for aseptic packaging of tomato past and package materials as well as financial recourses for purchasing agricultural produce.

The Armenian Red Cross and three NGO's were appointed as members of the Humanitarian Assistance Commission of the Republic of Armenia.

Azerbaijan

The current political situation in the country is stable, but the country is still strongly affected by factors such as the delay in receiving oil profits; the continuing high level of corruption; the slow implementation of economic and social reforms; the high level of unemployment; and the unresolved conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Some 800,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) continued to need basic support as a result of the conflict.

On 22 August the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia held a meeting in Geneva to discuss ways to reach a peaceful settlement over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This was the second meeting held without any foreign mediation. The leaders of the two countries stated that it was necessary to find ways for a conflict settlement meeting mutual interests.

In a troubling development, Russian media have increasingly accused Azerbaijan of supporting terrorists in Daghestan and Chechnya. It has been reported that this may result in eviction of Azeris living in Russia and this in its turn may aggravate the socio-economic, as well as the humanitarian situation in the country. The situation in Daghestan and Chechnya may also have a negative impact on the importation of goods coming by railway from Russia.

Georgia

During the reporting period preparations were made for parliamentary elections due to take place on 31 October. Registration of the party lists as well as majority candidates was completed and the pre-election campaign officially started.

Russian-Georgian relations deteriorated when the Russian government abolished limitations on persons crossing the border between Abkhazia and Georgia. These border controls were adopted in 1994. Limitations on persons crossing the Abkhazian section of the Russian-Georgian border were also lifted by the Russian authorities.

Relations between Russia and Georgia were already strained by allegations by Russian authorities of involvement by Georgians in provision of arms to Chechen combatants operating in Daghestan. The bombing of Chechnya by Russian Military Forces resulted in flows of refugees to adjoining Daghestan and Ingushetia.

The parliament of Georgia ratified an agreement with the European Union about Georgia becoming an associated member of the European Union. Georgia has been a full-fledged member of the Council of Europe since April 1999.

Lastly, Georgia acceded to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the statutes of refugees.

Red Cross/Red Crescent action

Armenia

Disaster Preparedness Programme (DPP)

A seminar developing the collaboration between Government structures and NGOs in the field of Disaster Preparedness and Response was organised by the Norwegian Refugee Council, UNDP, and NGO Centre.

The Armenian Red Cross DP Department published and distributed two manuals:

  • Manual for rescue workers;
  • Legislation for rescue work.
A distribution plan for the DP public education materials was finalised and the materials were distributed to the National Society's regional branches. Certain quantities of public education leaflets and earthquake posters were delivered to the Emergency Management Agency and the national Seismic Protection Survey Agency. Within the framework of the programme a TV spot was prepared.

A draft of the Memorandum of Understanding between the ARCS and EMA is now in its final stage. This agreement between the two parties will enhance the ARCS effort in Disaster Preparedness and Response programmes in the country.

Social Service Centres

The programme is mainly focused on delivery and distribution of the medical and food supplies to those most in need. The food component delivery had some delay but the situation has been normalised and food parcels were delivered in August through the ARCS's 23 Social Service Centres. The delay was due to the unavailability of buckwheat in the country.

After the negotiations with donors, an agreement was reached to replace the buckwheat for lentils for both phases. The first phase of the programme was completed on schedule. Ongoing monitoring is provided by the Federation Relief team. Distribution sites are being supervised and, when required, advise is being provided on different issues.

Health Programmes

The Strategic Health Plan for 2000-2001 was prepared by the Federation Health Co-ordinator and discussed with the Ministry of Health. A similar discussion was held with the Armenian Red Cross.

Within the framework of anti-malaria activities, a total of 45,704 home visits were conducted by Red Cross volunteers in Masis. Educational booklets (6,275) were distributed. A total of 95 blood samples were collected and tested in the Hygiene and Epidemiological Surveillance Centre. Among these malaria cases, 33 were confirmed as new.

Anti-Pediculosis Programme

A second round examination of children in Yerevan was organised. In total 16,476 kindergarten children were examined by the specialists from the Ministry of Health and Centres of Hygiene and Epidemiological Surveillance. Check-ups and medications distributions were carried out in the children's summer camps. Along with the medication, educational
booklets were distributed to the beneficiaries.

International Post-Trauma Rehabilitation Centre (IPTRC)

The IPTRC continued to work in full capacity in spite of a difficult financial situation and debts for water, electricity, fuel, diesel, and communication service. The IPTRC Outpatient Department (OPD) received a grant from UMCOR to restarted their hospital and home visits.

The OPD visited the Lori region (114 patients) and the Shirak region (59 patients), and continued to consult visitors every Tuesday.

The facility in the IPTRC was proposed to serve the spinal cord injured people from the recent earthquake in Turkey. The Armenian Red Cross and the Government of Armenia offered use of their facility at the IPTRC despite the political differences that existed soon after the 1992 border conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The IPTRC is one of the preparedness facilities/capacities of the Armenian Red Cross.

Azerbaijan

National Society Development

The new President of the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society was elected on 20 July. A restructuring of the office and a new organigramme were put into place. New managers were recruited for the Finance, Logistics and Administration Departments, as well as for the Medical and Relief Division. Good relations were established with both the Federation and the ICRC. A first draft of the new Red Crescent Law has been forwarded to Geneva, where some corrections were outlined.

Repatriation to Fizuli District

During the reporting period, family heads of 85 houses signed beneficiary agreements that stipulate the conditions of repatriation. The construction of the first 5 houses was completed during the first week of August. The identification of the families in the Southern camps and Shukurbeyli neighbourhood for 80 houses to be funded by TACIS was completed on 9 July with support from the Federation Sub-Delegation in Sabirabad.

Southern Camps

Water and Sanitation

The drilling of 2 artesian wells in two camps was completed. The water is now suitable for drinking, although it still needs to be tested by the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology. Sanitation was an issue in the camps during the month of August. Planning was completed for the repair of 194 old and the construction of 365 new latrines.

Income generating activities

In total, 190 projects are being assisted (124 on credit loans, 46 agricultural loans and 20 graduate loans) and the repayment is going according to schedule.

Construction

The building of the Community Activity Centres in two camps was completed. During this period, repairs undertaken on the 18 schools were achieved, thus allowing the school year to start in better conditions.

Food distribution

A re-registration exercise to facilitate food distribution was undertaken, and includes socio-economic information intended to specify needs and to assist programme planning.

Health

Visiting nursing programme

After a monitoring visit to Nasimi, Yasamal and Narimanov districts of Baku, improvements to this programme have been proposed by conducting seminars in all regional centres.

First Aid

Within the reporting period, 26 training courses took place, with a total of 257 participants.

Donors

The Federation continued to pursue its good public relations with actual and potential donors.

A number of meetings were scheduled to take place in the near future in order to achieve concrete results in a relatively short period of time.

Georgia

Community Development (CDP)

During the reporting period special efforts have been made to increase community participation in different social activities and the daily running of community rooms. The committees of elected IDPs who represent different residential units and groups were established. These committees, together with the staff of the Federation and Georgian Red Cross Society, will
co-ordinate the work for achieving community development. An average of 30-50 IDPs visit community rooms every day to read publications, play chess and musical instruments, watch TV and involve themselves in various other activities, such as football, basketball, volleyball and table tennis.

A drawing competition with a theme "My native country" was organised with the active participation of nearly 1,300 IDP children in all collective centres. The winners were awarded with prizes.

Most computer training courses are now complete, while other training courses such as English, tailoring, hairdressing, massage, cosmetology, and TV and radio repair continue. 140 persons have finished the computer course and 383 persons are still going through skills development courses.

The Delegation, together with the GRCS, organised a Community Development Workshop on 16 September. The purpose of the workshop was to clarify and refine concepts, reconcile differences and move towards combining ideas into a coherent policy. Representatives of various NGOs and international organisations working with IDPs in Georgia (UNHCR, IOM,
USAID, and ICRC), the Minister of Refugees and Accommodation of Georgia, as well as IDPs from different collective centres participated in the workshop, which proved to be a success.

Food/Non-food Distribution

Equipped with basic sets of tools, the three mobile technical teams have been providing minor repair work for the beneficiaries: IDPs and isolated elderly by helping them fix roofs, doors and windows, chopping firewood and doing electric repairs. During the reporting period the MTTs in West Georgia and Tskhinvali region provided assistance to 676 beneficiaries. Around 15,000 IDPs in Western Georgia were provided with winter footwear thanks to the financial assistance of the British Embassy in Georgia.

Health/Medical

A regular distribution of medicines and medical supplies within the primary health care programme for IDPs in Collective Centres in Samegrelo, West Georgia, continued during the reporting period. Also, educational activities among IDPs have been organised including training for community health workers with a special focus on first aid, reproductive health and
family planning.

The GRCS doctors and visiting nurses continued the provision of basic social and medical assistance and distribution of food parcels to lonely elderly people throughout Georgia with the financial support of ECHO and through British Red Cross.

The medicines and medical

supplies were distributed in 24 GRCS polyclinics throughout Georgia including South Osetia. The GRCS visiting nurses distributed two rounds of 5kg food parcels to the most vulnerable IDPs in Samegrelo Region along with other basic social homecare activities from the support of USAID/Norcross.

Basic hospital and administration equipment (beds, wheelchairs, some diagnosis equipment, and computers), a generous donation of the Cantonal Hospital in Geneva, were provided to hospitals in Western Georgia treating internally displaced persons. The distribution was implemented by the Georgian Red Cross Society with the technical support from the Federation Delegation.

With the financial assistance of ECHO and the Netherlands Red Cross, the Federation will provide specialised institutions with the medicines needed for the treatment of various neurologic and psychiatric diseases on a bi-monthly basis. Also the project envisages special trainings for neurologists and psychiatrists.

First Aid Programme

Activities envisaged by the First Aid project funded by the Norwegian Red Cross began in October 1999. A Plan of Action was finalised in cooperation with the GRCS. A time schedule for seminars was developed. The number and type of workshop stakeholders have been determined. Cooperation agreement between the Federation and the GRCS was worked out.

Information

The Information Department of the Delegation has provided mass media with regular information about the operation implemented by the Federation and the Georgian Red Cross Society. Articles about the Family Food Parcels, Home Care, Mobile Technical Teams, Community Development and other Red Cross programmes were periodically published in
leading Georgian newspapers.

The mass media in Georgia gave a full coverage of the work of the GRCS Rescue Service which on 16 August 1999 left for Turkey to provide assistance after the massive earthquake.

Daily information about the work of the Georgian rescuers was disseminated.

A ten minute video film was produced to show the different components of the Community Development programme.

The Information Department of the GRCS and Federation completed works on the design of the second version of the poster "Whatever you give away is yours....". The poster will be distributed in the beginning of October.

The works on an audio-visual document about the GRCS Migration Department covering Community Development, Mobile Technical Teams and Population Movement Programmes of GRCS/Federation has started.

Population Movement

At the invitation of the Georgian Government, from 12 to 19 July 1999 a joint Council of Europe-OSCE-UNHCR mission visited Georgia in order to study and assess the conditions in the areas of origin of the population deported from the Meskhetian region in 1944. The mission acquainted itself with the policy of the Georgian Government in light of the relevant commitments undertaken upon accession to the Council of Europe and in particular with the steps taken further to the pledges made at the Vienna consultations on Meskhetian issues.

The Federation jointly with the GRCS and ICRC hosted internally displaced children and children from vulnerable families in a summer camp in Tskhvarichamia, near Tbilisi between July 18 and August 2, 1999. During these 2 weeks different activities took place, including sport, personal hygiene, first aid, and history lessons about the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Georgian Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation of Georgia relating to the problems of IDPs, refugees and deported people in Georgia has been drafted. The Memorandum of Understanding is intended to create a legal base for the GRCS in the area of displacement. Also, a paragraph establishing the legal base for the GRCS in the Law of Georgia on Refugees and Internally Displaced People has been drafted. The draft will be discussed with the Ministry of Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia.

The Federation Delegation together with the GRCS Population Movement Coordinator and the ICRC Protection/Detention delegate visited the Georgian/Russian border at Zemo Larsi to assess the situation and the capacity of the Kazbegi Red Cross branch in case of further refugee influxes. Close monitoring of the situation will be needed due to the unpredictability
of the conflict.

Construction

The Federation Delegation provided rehabilitation of the Pneumonic Department of Children Hospital in Batumi, Western Georgia with the financial assistance of Netherlands Red Cross.

The scope of work included: repair of windows and doors, glazing, provision of tiles in corridors and sanitation facilities, installation of shower units with water heaters, electrical repairs, painting of walls, and the whitewashing of ceilings.

The Federation Delegation rehabilitated classrooms of two schools in Zugdidi, Western Georgia, occupied in May 1998 by internally displaced people from Gali region and consequently rendered unusable as classrooms. The scope of work included the repairing of floors, doors, windows and ceilings, as well as glazing and roofing.

The Federation Delegation together with the GRCS has been conducting a survey which aims at assessing living conditions of Internally Displaced People from Abkhazia and Osetia accommodated in collective centres throughout Georgia. 90% of the survey has been done based on the questionnaire worked out by the Federation and the GRCS.

Outstanding needs

The majority of needs identified for the 1999 Plan of Action have been covered.

External relations - Government/UN/NGOs/Media

During the reporting period the International Federation continued to maintain an effective working relationship with its partners both at the Headquarters level and in the field. Specific attention has been given to exchanging strategic information with the donor community.

Emerging working relations with the international corporate community in Azerbaijan added a new dimension to already extensive tasks of the Federation Delegation in this country.

Contributions

See Annex 1 for details.

Björn Eder
Director
Europe Department

Peter Rees-Gildea
Director
Operations Funding and Reporting Department