The Pankisi Valley is situated in the Northeast portion of Georgia. During the Great Caucasian War in the 18th century, ethnic Chechens fleeing from the war with Russia, crossed the mountains at the border with Georgia and settled in the Pankisi Valley. Six main settlements / villages were established, which now comprise some 8,000 assimilated Chechens, called Kists.
The Kist have a solid relationship with Chechnya, and many have, in the past, travelled back and forth for the purpose of trading, employment and visiting relatives. Soon after the resumption of hostilities in Chechnya in 1999, a small number of Chechens crossed the border into Georgia, and continued on to the Pankisi Valley to stay with friends and relatives.
To date, 5,168 Chechen refugees have been registered by the Georgian Government's Ministry for Refugees and Accommodation. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Medecins Sans Frontiers-France (MSF-France) have conducted assessment missions at various times over the last several months, and have established field presences in Akhmeta to assist refugees and to support local capacities to house and care for the refugee population. The majority of the refugees, some 88%, are living with friends or family in private homes. The remaining 12 % are accommodated in communal centers.
The latest influx of refugees came in December 1999, when approximately 1,100 refugees (mainly women and children) crossed into Georgia near the village of Shatili. UNHCR, in co-operation with the Georgian Border Guard, provided transportation first by helicopter to Zhinvali, where the refugees received first aid and medical checks. The refugees were then transported by bus to the Pankisi Valley. Upon arrival in the valley, all refugee families received blankets, mattresses, sanitary kits, food and plastic sheeting. Various other agencies have also made donations of shoes, warm clothing and blankets to the refugee population.
In order to house those refugees without friends or relatives in the Pankisi Valley, UNHCR has rehabilitated seven communal structures (former kindergartens, schools, etc.) into collective accommodations by repairing and winterising floors, roofs, doors, and windows. ICRC is co-ordinating the provision of water and sanitation to the communal centers. MSF-France and the Federation are providing health care and medical supplies to local health facilities. The Norwegian Refugee Council and UNHCR are creating school facilities for the Chechen children in Duisi, Jokolo, and Omalo. They have identified qualified teachers among the refugee population, who have developed a typical Russian language curriculum, and have begun the procurement of Russian textbooks.
Authorities do not expect another influx of refugees into Georgia, due, in part, to harsh winter conditions at the mountain pass. The needs of the refugees now living in the Pankisi Valley are being met through the co-ordinated efforts of the above mentioned organisations.
Attached to this Information Bulletin is a matrix that provides a detailed account of the assistance now being provided by the international community. For further information, please contact Ms. Sarah Logan, Field Advisor, at the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs or Mr. Michael Phelps, Deputy Rep. at UNHCR.
Organisations Facilitate De-institutionalisation of Children
Within the framework of the de-institutionalisation programme, the British NGO: European Children's Trust, the Georgian government and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are implementing a joint, two-year project aimed at promoting the development of a childcare system that addresses the need of every child to grow up within a family.
In the first phase of the project, a survey is being conducted to collect statistical data on the number of institutions, the number of children in them, the reasons why these children are there and the amount of contact the children have with their parents. The main objective of the survey, implemented by the local NGO "Child and Environment," is to define how realistic it is for these children to return to their biological families. The survey will identify children who could potentially be placed in foster care if it is not possible to return them to their families.
The main tool for implementing the project is the integration of child-centred social work services into the Government's national strategy for children in need of public care. Within the framework of child-centred social work, 18 social workers will be trained to work with parents and children. Future social workers from Tbilisi, Telavi and Rustavi have already been selected through tender. Special training courses have been held in which participants were trained in the basic skills necessary for social work.
Danish Refugee Council Active in Georgia
In October 1999, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) opened its office in Georgia, namely in Kutaisi. The decision was taken after a two month period survey. The organisation concentrates its activities in western Georgia and focuses on income generation, community development, and capacity building.
The income generation programme envisages issuing loans to IDPs and vulnerable local persons. As a condition of receiving a loan from the DRC, the applicant should have attended business courses, be able to work out a functioning business loan, and to have an understanding of whether or not receiving a loan will assist the applicant and her/his family in improving their living conditions. In its assessment of business plans DRC favours production and service businesses, though trade businesses are also supported. To date, 5 business courses have been conducted by the Charity Humanitarian Centre Apkhazeti (CHCA) for 113 persons in Khoni and Samtredia, 31 business plans have been considered by the loan committee, and approximately USD 25,000 have been paid out as loans.
The DRC community development programme renders assistance to socio-cultural activities and initiatives aimed at improving the everyday life of groups of persons, especially IDPs and local vulnerables.
Within the framework of the capacity building programme DRC plans to cooperate with local NGOs and train a local partner to take over DRC activities in future. Establishment of an NGO centre for training-seminars, internetcafe, and library is also envisaged.
For additional information lease contact: 4, Davitashvili St., Kutaisi. Tel.: 231 7 79 71; Fax: 231 7 04 90. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ICRC Assists Chechen War Wounded
During December 1999, and January 2000, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided assistance to Chechen war wounded displaced to Georgia. ICRC doctors assisted in the identification and treatment of war wounded in the Georgian village of Shatili near the border with the Russian Federation. It provided the Shatili medical point with medicines as well. In addition, ICRC provided assistance to Chechen war wounded by performing an assessment of needs in Tbilisi's hospital #5 where some war wounded received additional care. ICRC also provided the hospital with medical and surgical supplies for the treatment of the war wounded. The value of the medicines and surgical supplies provided by ICRC in Shatili and Hospital #5 totals approximately 20 000 Swiss Francs. These activities were carried out in co-operation with the UNHCR, and Georgian authorities.
In order to meet the urgent needs of the basic education system, UNICEF provided furniture such as school desks, chairs and chalkboards to 37 schools in Zugdidi, Tsalenjikha and Sachkhere. Altogether, 6,900 students have benefited from this activity.
With the support of the Nagano Olympic Committee, UNICEF delivered sport supplies to 19,834 IDP children with the overall objective of promoting healthy life styles and implementing psychosocial rehabilitation programmes in 27 primary schools countrywide.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has started to implement a Winter Programme for supplementary feeding. The programme includes approximately 60,000 IDPs, mainly living in collective centres (excluding Tbilisi and Zugdidi) and another 12,964 vulnerable persons registered with 15 non-governmental organisations and institutions throughout Georgia. The WFP relief ration for IDPs and local vulnerable persons consists of wheat flour, oil, sugar and canned fish. In addition IDPs will receive beans and local vulnerable persons will receive cheese. Each beneficiary will be entitled to the following daily ration over a period of 60 days: 0.250 kg wheat flour, 0.025 kg. of oil, 0.015 kg. of sugar, 0.0185 kg. of canned fish and 0.150 kg of beans or 0.030 kg. of canned cheese. Overall, WFP will support vulnerable IDPs and local persons during the most difficult winter months with 399 Mt. of wheat flour, 39.9 Mt. of vegetable oil, 23.94 Mt. of sugar and 23.34 Mt. of cheese and 29.53 Mt. of canned fish.
WFP also continues to support implementation of 164 Food for Work projects throughout Georgia.
From 20 December 1999, to 9 January 2000, Counterpart International delivered food to single pensioners, teachers and families who lost breadwinners in the Georgian / Abkhaz conflict. Food was also distributed to disabled children, single pensioners, the Society of Diabetics and the Society of Hearing Impaired Persons in Kutaisi. Counterpart International also assisted 250 Ukrainians living in Georgia and 101 orphan children with food. Counterpart continues its daily feeding programs for the Tbilisi Charitable House 'Katarzisi', the Clinic of the Tbilisi Psychiatric Research Institute, the Children's TB Hospital, the Kutaisi Charitable House, and the Kutiri Psychiatric Hospital.
Counterpart International has distributed food to approximately 25,000 vulnerable persons Georgia-wide. Daily food assistance was provided to soup kitchens, boarding houses and charity houses in Khoni, Tbilisi and Sagarejo. Altogether, 4,550 persons were reached in theses areas. Individual food parcels were provided to 20,400 persons, primarily single pensioners, in Rustavi, Khashuri, Gori, Zugdidi, Senaki, Sagarejo, Ozurgeti, and the Imereti region.
UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Health (MoH) in its establishment of a Centre for the Promotion of Clinical Effectiveness for Reproductive Health. UNICEF has provided technical and financial support to the Centre whose main goal is to promote a partnership of obstetricians and gynaecologists that demonstrates cost-effective ways of reducing maternal and perinatal mortality. With the support of UNICEF a task force of Georgian obstetricians was set up within the Centre to review the state of maternal mortality on a regular basis, to conduct relevant studies in reproductive health and to disseminate information and major findings. The Centre has already conducted a confidential inquiry of deaths due to maternal mortality in Georgia. The report based on the major findings of the inquiry and containing recommendations on how to improve practices, will be prepared and distributed to key officials. The Centre also conducted a survey on women's view of reproductive health.
UNICEF provided financial support to the MoH to conduct a series of training sessions for neonatologists and midwives in six maternity houses within Tbilisi. The training sessions aimed at ensuring quality care for mothers and children through capacity building of health personnel, given that 66 per cent of still births take place in the neonatal period. Continued education and capacity building of health professionals is considered to be a key factor in reducing infant and maternal mortality rates in the country. With the support of UNICEF, a total of 180 neonatologists and midwives were trained in the November-December training sessions.
With the support of UNICEF, the Ministries of Health and Education initiated a three-year pilot project to establish a network of "health-promotion-schools" in Georgia. The main goal of the project is to ensure health promotion in schools through health education, creation of a safe environment and efficient health services.
Within the first phase of the project, which is currently underway, a coordination committee was set up with the participation of relevant experts from the Ministries of Health and Education, and UNICEF. Seven pilot schools in Tbilisi, Telavi, Akhaltsikhe and Kaspi were identified and a national programme for "health-promoting-schools" was elaborated. Future project steps envisage the introduction of the initiative in the selected pilot schools, formation of the national network and its integration into the European Network of "health-promoting-schools."
Counterpart International has distributed medicines donated by the World Vision to the Sagarejo children's clinic, Kutaisi polyclinic for IDPs, Terjola hospital, Tskhaltubo medical point for IDPs, Tsalka clinic, the A. A. Athens medical-diagnostic centre in Tbilisi, and the Gori city hospital.
Multi-sectoral Assistance to IDPs
United Nations Volunteers (UNV) has funded a seminar in Zugdidi for members of the Sakrebulos (municipal governments) and representatives from the IDP community. The project aims to form a common committee which will work on IDP issues and include their needs in the framework of the regional needs.
From 20 December 1999, to 9 January 2000, Counterpart International delivered clothing and boots to 106 patients of the Terjola psycho-neurological hospital.
Counterpart International has delivered clothing to 86 children at the Kojori boarding school and to 40 children at the Samtredia boarding school.
The humanitarian organisation 'Pari Mdzleveli', was established in 1994 and is a local non-governmental organisation. The main goal of the NGO is to assist families with many children, and orphans living under the guardianship of relatives throughout Georgia. The organisation reaches more than 5,500 socially vulnerable families with many children and more than 20,000 orphans, including IDPs. The 'Pari Mdzleveli' office has an emergency room which serves as a temporary shelter for homeless families with many children. During its existence, the NGO has assisted families with many children by distributing food, clothing, medications and by providing temporary shelter for them. Most of Pari Mdzlevi's programmes are implemented with the NGO's own resources. In the nearest future the NGO plans to take a census of families with many children, and orphans living under guardianship of relatives. Pari Mdzleveli is ready to co-operate with any interested agency. Please contact them at Digomi, 6, building 18, 2nd floor. Tel: (995 32) 529972.
On 31 January, the UN Security Council, "stressing that the lack of progress towards a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia, was unacceptable and concerned by the continued volatility in the conflict zone, extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) until 31 July 2000".
Canadian Feed the Children (CFTC) is an international development and relief agency dedicated to alleviating the suffering and hunger of children around the world and in Canada. The organisation supports programmes that directly help children in need, while creating healthy environments within families and communities.
CFTC provides countries in need with vital commodities like food, medicine, clothing and seeds. This year, CFTC has a surplus of seeds available for donations.
CFTC would like to know if any agency is interested in receiving and distributing these seeds in Georgia. CFTC will pay for the shipping right up to the delivery/warehousing point. These seeds (grade A) will be inspected by Agriculture Canada to verify that they free of pests and mold. They are also provided for market '99 and have excellent germination rate.
Interested organisations will receive more detailed information on seeds, which are a mixture of a broad variety of vegetables, herbs, and flower.
For further information please contact Ms. Irina Baghdasaryan, CFTC Caucasus Desk Programme Manager at: Tel.: 1 (416) 757-1536 ext. 246 or e-mail: email@example.com
Produced by OCHA Georgia. For more information,
please contact Ms. Nino Zhvania, Information Officer.
Tel/fax : 995-32-959516; Tel: 995-32-943163; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.