Georgia: Bulletin No.1, Jan - Mar 2009



UN to secure donor support for Georgia!s post-conflict recovery

The United Nations Agencies in Georgia held on 27 February 2009 a meeting to Tprovide donors with a report on UN emergency programmes in the post-August 2008 period and secure support for longer-term recovery activities within the framework of the Joint Needs Assessment (JNA). The donor meeting also heard from the Deputy Finance Minister Dimitri Gvindadze about the government!s use of donor funds since the October 2008 Donor Conference in Brussels.

A Concept Paper that outlines the planned longer-term recovery activities of UN Agencies was presented at the donor meeting. The Concept Paper is based on a Joint Needs Assessment undertaken at the request of the Government of Georgia in September 2008 by the World Bank, the EC and the UN, and marks an important opportunity to focus international attention on major post-conflict reconstruction and recovery issues - with the first priorities being return, relocation and resettlement; education; employment; agriculture; health; and social protection.

"In light of the very difficult times that the country and its people have been through," said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Robert Watkins. "a more effective response by the development sector, and in particular the UN, will greatly benefit the people. We would like to thank donors for the prompt assistance for the emergency phase and welcome today!s meeting, which demonstrates the willingness of the international community to support longer-term recovery efforts as well."

Since the Georgia Humanitarian Flash Appeal was issued in August and updated in September 2008, the UN system has worked closely with the donors and the NGO community on virtually all facets of the relief effort. The unprecedented international support was provided to solve a humanitarian crisis in Georgia and now the work is moving towards post-conflict reconstruction and recovery.

"The crisis in August showed that the UN system has a very responsive infrastructure for humanitarian assistance," said Robert Watkins at the donor meeting. " The quick and generous response of the donors to the Appeal has been very encouraging and is, in a sense, a vote of confidence in the UN' s capacity to respond quickly to the humanitarian crisis. In the same spirit we welcome donor support for the country!s post-conflict recovery."

The event brought together approximately 60 representatives of donor countries and international organizations.

Three UN Agencies launch joint cash assistance programme for displaced persons in Georgia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children!s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Pro-gramme (WFP) launched on 18 February 2009 a joint cash assistance programme for people displaced during the August 2008 crisis in Georgia.

The programme is implemented with support from 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 in 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 hygienic 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 whole caseload but the under 2 years old.

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 eligibale family will receive a plastic banking card which will be issued to an adult female member of a family (whenever this is not possible, cards will be issued to the adult males).

Up to 30,000 beneficiaries will receive cash assistance. For this programme, WFP allocated 2,864,952 Lari; UNICEF $ 766,490 Lari; and UNHCR $ 2,983,032 Lari thanks to the generous support from donor countries and agencies.

Preparation for this programme started in December 2008. Since then, Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation and the Civil Registry Agency; beneficiary lists have been obtained from the CRA to identify the caseload for each type of cash allotment; agreements have been signed with the Peo-ple!s Bank of Georgia; and the list of the beneficiaries have been provided to the bank. Also, WFP conducted training for MRA staff. A special hotline is operating within the MRA to address questions that may arise during the programme implementation. As a final step, posters and leaflets were printed and disseminated among the beneficiaries to ensure full visibility and transparency of the programme. The three sister UN agencies are proud to commence the joint cash assistance programme and plan a thorough monitoring of its implementation in cooperation with the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation and the Civil Registry Agency of Georgia.