Georgia

OCHA Georgia Information Bulletin Jul 2005

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HIGHLIGHTS:

A Road Reopened in Tskhinvali

A road which connects the Georgian villages in the South Ossetian conflict zone and passes through the region's capital Tskhinvali has been reopened in the beginning of July. According to the press office of the State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues, the decision to reopen this route was made during talks between the Georgian and South Ossetian law enforcement agencies on July 1. The sides agreed that the route between the Georgian villages of Tamarasheni and Kekhvi will be jointly controlled by Georgian and Russian peacekeeping troops, while the route between the villages of Ergneti and Tamarasheni, which lies through Tskhinvali, will be controlled by Russian and Ossetian peacekeepers. This road was closed after the situation deteriorated in the conflict zone following a May 29 armed clash between South Ossetian militias and Georgian police and the disappearance of four Georgians in the conflict zone on June 6.

De-facto Authorities Ignore the Conference on South Ossetia in Adjara

A two-day conference on resolution of the South Ossetian conflict opened in Batumi, Adjara Autonomous Republic on 10 July, and featured the participation of representatives from international organizations, local and international experts and Georgian governmental officials. Authorities in breakaway South Ossetia boycotted the conference, fearing that it aims to cover up the hostile intentions of the Georgian side.

The conference was attended by Georgian parliamentarians, government officials, local and international experts and representatives of international organisations, including OSCE, UNDP, UNHCR, as well as foreign diplomats accredited in Georgia participated in the conference. President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the participants. Issues related to South Ossetia peace plan, voiced for the first time at the session of the parliamentary assembly of Council of Europe, as well as property restitution and other forms of compensation to the victims of the conflict.

President Saakashvili stressed that the Georgian side is ready to grant South Ossetia "absolute self-governance," cultural autonomy, a "privileged regime" of border crossing with Russia, as well as a privileged economic and tax system, as well as property restitution. Saakashvili also vowed that the Georgian side has enough financial resources to provide the South Ossetia population with pensions in amounts equal to those which are currently provided in Russia.

Bush Grenade Suspect Detained

A person, who is "allegedly suspected" in tossing a hand-grenade during the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush to Tbilisi in May, was arrested on 21 May in an operation, which resulted in the death of one security official and the injury of the 'suspect' himself. Later the suspect, Vladimer Arutunian admitted that he tossed a hand-grenade while U.S. President Bush was addressing thousands of Georgians on Freedom Square on 10 May. Several hand-grenades, uniforms, a night vision device and several gasmasks, as well as military guidelines were taken out of the apartment and basement of the suspect. Joint Georgian-American investigation are underway in order to identify connections and motivation of the suspect.

First Russian Military Convoys Left Georgia

A negotiation regarding the agreement of technical details on the launching of the Russian bases withdrawal has been ended successfully. According to the Russian official, the visas and license problems have been solved and the first convoy left the Russian military base in Batumi on 30 July.

Security Council Extends UNOMIG Mission Until 31 January 2006

The Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia until 31 January 2006.

Unanimously adopting the resolution, the Council, while reaffirming the independence and territorial integrity of Georgia and the necessity to define the status of Abkhazia within the state of Georgia, deeply regretted the continues refusal of the Abkhaz side to agree to a discussion on the substance of the "Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competencies between Tbilisi and Sukhumi", and again strongly urged the Abkhaz side to receive the document and its transmittal letter. It is also regretted the lack of progress on the initiation of political status negotiations.

The Council further called for the rapid finalisation and signature of the letter of intent on returns of IDPs proposed by the Special Representative of the Secretary General, recalling that the Abkhaz side bears a particular responsibility to protect the returnees.

The Council also regretted the cancellation of the meeting on security guarantees planned for July, but welcomed the signing on 12 May of a Protocol with measures to strengthen implementation of the 1994 Moscow agreement on ceasefire and separation of forces, as well as positive developments toward the reopening of the railways between Sochi and Tbilisi and toward the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.

HUMANITARIAN AND DEVELOPMENT UPDATE:

WFP Assistance to Flood Affected Population

On 4 July, the Government of the Czech Republic signed an agreement with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to donate 2 million Czech Korunas (about US$ 81,000) towards WFP's emergency operation for people affected by floods in Georgia.

The disaster hit a large part of western Georgia in April, washing away roads, bridges, hundreds of homes and farmland. More recently, the floods have spread to eastern parts of the country, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of people.

WFP has already delivered a 60-day emergency relief ration - 144 tons of wheat flour, 7 tons of vegetable oil and 9 tons of sugar - to about 6,000 people in Svaneti and Racha-Lechkhumi regions. More than 30 tons of food was airlifted to villages cut off after torrential rains swept across western Georgia. A further 35 tons of food is being transported by road to Lentekhi district, from where it will be airlifted to isolated villages in Svaneti region, using an Mi-8 transport helicopter made available by the Government of Georgia.

After two months of emergency relief, WFP will focus its assistance on rebuilding infrastructure. A total of 30 food-for-work (FFW) projects will start soon in Svaneti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Achara, Samegrelo, Kakheti and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. Some 3,500 people from affected villages will take part in the projects, building flood defences, digging drainage and irrigation channels, repairing roads, and laying water pipes. Each participant will receive 4-member family ration for each day worked. In this way, about 14,000 people (project participants and their family members) will be provided with food.

WFP has been working in Georgia since 1993. The overall goal of its current three-year operation to contribute to the national recovery that will ensure the livelihoods of the most impoverished people while longer-term structural reforms are adopted.

Donations for WFP's current operation in Georgia have come from United States (US$7.4 million), Japan (US$3.1 million), Switzerland (US$2.2 million), Italy (US$1.2 million), Canada (US$337,966), Germany (US$161,464), Luxembourg (US$118,765), Poland (US$100,000) and Ireland (US$8,450).

World Bank Supports Rural Development

On 30 June, the World Bank approved US$ 13 million in additional financing to Georgia for an Irrigation and Drainage Community Development Project (IDCDP). This project has been restructured with the help of additional financing to add a new objective and associated component in response to unusually heavy floods in Georgia experienced during the spring of 2005. US$5.2 million will be provided as an IDA grant and US$7.2 million as an IDA credit.

The expected outcomes for the additional component of US $13 million are: 1) to return flood-damaged irrigation infrastructure to operational conditions thereby guaranteeing water abstraction and conveyance; and 2) to return flood-damaged river embankments to fully operational conditions. The key outcome indicators to be measured include a command area of 80,000 ha, serving about 90,000 farm families, served with required irrigation water; and flood hazard removed for 30 villages, with 25,000 households and large areas with public and private infrastructure.

The additional IDA Credit will be repayable in 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years.

For more information about this project, please visit www.worldbank.org/projects

UN Brings Needed Equipment to Hospitals Throughout Abkhazia

During 23-27 June, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) jointly delivered seven brand new vaccine refrigerators to needy hospitals and children's polyclinics in Abkhazia. The refrigerators were procured by UNICEF, with donor support from the German Federal Government, to help equip hospitals in all seven regions of Abkhazia. The aid was delivered to the regions of Gali, Ochamchire, Sukhumi, Gulripsh, Gudauta, Tkvarcheli and Gagra. Hospital staff were given a briefing on the use of the refrigerators, as well as best practices fro storing and monitoring vaccines.

UNOMIG and UNICEF plan to team up again in September for a large distribution of school supplies and sports equipment to Abkhaz schools.

UNFPA Provides Assistance to Medical Institutions in Georgia

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) main aim is to improve reproductive health service quality and access of population to such services. UNFPA works in partnership with the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia (MOLHSA) works in the following areas: raising public awareness, providing contraceptives and medical equipment, data collection and analysis, training of medical staff, working with media. The main goals of the above activities include reduction of women mortality rate and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

On 21 July 2005, UNFPA in cooperation with the MOLHSA delivered and distributed medical equipment and contraceptives to 12 medical facilities in 4 regions of Georgia: Guria, Imereti, Shida Kartli and Adjara. During 2005, UNFPA plans to supply 24 medical facilities in 9 regions of Georgia.

UNFPA opened its office in Georgia in 1999, however the Fund provides assistance to Georgia since 1993. During 2006-2010, UNFPA Georgia office plans to implement first large-scale, 5-year programme in reproductive health, in partnership with the MoLHSA.

UNDAC Mission Visit

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva fielded a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) mission to Georgia on 6-16 June 2005, to assess the institutional structure and arrangements in place for disaster preparedness and response. The mission responded to a request from the United Nations Resident Coordinator following consultations with the Government of Georgia, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the United States Bilateral Office for Defense Cooperation.

The UNDAC team was composed of ten experts with extensive and varied experience in the field of emergency management and response. The team met and worked closely in-country with Ministries, administrations, agencies and organisations in order to obtain a broad view of the country's state of preparedness and readiness for major emergencies and disaster response. Field visits to Georgia's disaster-prone areas were also carried out.

The mission covered various issues such as legal framework, disaster preparedness, response capacity, coordination mechanisms, contingency planning, early warning systems, public awareness and other disaster management matters. The final report of the mission does not provide an in-depth analysis of each of the sectors, but highlights areas where the team felt opportunities for improvements exist and further in-depth studies need to be conducted.

The mission concluded that Georgia's disaster preparedness and response system needs major improvement. Over the years there has been serious institutional erosion and several of the organisations with preparedness and response responsibilities operate at sub-standard levels and will not be able to meet the operational demands of a major accident or disaster.

The mission found that Georgia's institutional disaster management capacities are limited in terms of disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response. The national system lacks overarching crisis management legislation, clear coordination mechanisms and standard operating procedures to manage an emergency response.

The mission noted the pro-active role played by the Government in its response to the floods in May/June 2005. Flood-affected communities received financial support and roads and bridges in the most vulnerable areas were repaired in a timely fashion. High-level officials demonstrated their solidarity by visiting flood-affected communities, military reservists helped to evacuate local communities and local authorities showed dedication and commitment.

In making its recommendations the team drew on internationally accepted best practices, based on its own vast experience in disaster preparedness and response, and tailored them to Georgia's own particular political and socio-economic conditions. The mission made some 30 recommendations, including the need for overarching legislation on emergency preparedness and response, and the need to create a permanent political and policy making body and a permanent operational entity within the existing institutional framework for disaster management. The final report also includes recommendations designed to sharpen disaster preparedness, upgrade national, regional and local disaster response capacity and streamline procedures for the receipt of international assistance during disasters.

LOCAL NGO SPOTLIGHT

Centre for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia is a non-governmental organisation, which promotes building up of civic society in Georgia by increasing the awareness of population and active involvement of citizens in decision-making, advocacy and support of civil society initiatives, practice-oriented research. The Centre seeks to assist those groups and individual members of the society who provides support for social, political and economic reforms and the forming of an efficient institute to protect human rights.

The mission of CSRDG is to facilitate the strengthening of civil society in Georgia, while ensuring two-way communication between society at large and its government.

The organisation studies acute problems of the country, their pre-conditions and possible ways of solution with the help of a network of experts existing under the centre. The Centre publishes regular bulletins, leaflets and information brochures, holds workshops, public hearings around the problematic issues and develops recommendations.

The organisation shares expertise and experience as a result of research and practical activities with public organisations for the purpose of more effective solution of existing problems. It provides consultations for civic organisations, community groups and local self-governing bodies.

For more information, please contact CSRDG office at: Delisi 1st Lane 5A, tel.: 25 07 11, e-mail: office@csrdg.ge, web-site: www.csrdg.ge.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

On 16 July, the office of the Guria Youth Resource Centre (GYRC) was completely destroyed by fire.

GYRC was established in 2001 with the support from US Peace Corps. The organisation implements its activities throughout three districts of Guria region with the headquarters in Ozurgeti city.

Main goals and objectives include the support to youth development and participation in the Guria region in order to raise civil awareness, protect human/children's rights, promote volunteerism, provide advocacy for the establishment of youth public unions in the community, facilitate youth participation in public, social, economical and environmental activities in Guria and cooperate with governmental, non-governmental, business and media sectors to support solutions to youth related issues and concerns.

Since its establishment, the Centre has implemented various projects funded by Peace Corps Washington, UNICEF, World Bank, US Embassy, Eurasia Foundation and others. Currently GYRC implements three projects focused on social marketing, adolescence helath and anti-corruption funded by the Eurasia Foundation, care International and European Commission, respectively.

Unfortunately, on 16 July, the GYRC office building burned to the ground. The office was completely destroyed, including expanding English-language library, Internet center and social marketing department.

Guria Youth Resource Center is asking for help from any international, donor, non-governmental organization, businesses and accredited embassies in Georgia to give helping hands to the organization.

Interested individuals and organizations can contact to Ms. Tamar Ghlonti, vice-president of the GYRC at: 4, Rustraveli St., Ozurgeti 3500, Georgia, Phone: 899 15 63 84; 899 17 75 19, E-mail: tamghlonti@gmail.com , Web: www.gyrc.org.ge.

Even very modest contribution made from you will be significant for the organization to develop their activities step by step and contribute civil society development in Guria.

HUMANITARIAN ACTION UPDATE:

During April/May 2005, the SOCO Foundation's free mobile medical group conducted medical check ups and distributed free medications to 166 vulnerable persons in Khoni district, 131 in Kutaisi and 520 in Poti. SOCO Foundation has also delivered and distributed 64 bed linen and 111 food parcels to the Tskaltsitela elderly shelter residents in Kutaisi district.

In addition, patients of Tbilisi TB Centre and IDPs residing there received 180 food parcels. The aid was provided by the Dutch sponsors.

Solidarity of the Church of Greece, a Greek NGO sent 300 tons of food aid (macaroni) to Georgia to be distributed to the vulnerable and flood-affected population through the Ministry of Police and Civil Security, Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Education and Science.

Produced by the UN Humanitarian Affairs Team

For more information or your comments and suggestions please contact Ms. Maka Esaiashvili, Information Officer.

Address: 9 Eristavi Street, Tbilisi, Georgia. Tel: (995 32) 95 95 16, 94 31 63. Fax: (995 32) 95 95 16; e-mail: maka.esaiashvili@undp.org.ge

Please send any contributions for the next bulletin to Transition Unit by 25 August 2005

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.