Restrictions on movement into and from the conflict territories in Georgia a cause for great humanitarian concern

News and Press Release
Originally published
Strasbourg, 21.11.2008 - "Following my visit this week to the region of Abkhazia and the border district of South Ossetia, I am greatly concerned by the restrictions on movement into and from the conflict territories in Georgia and the great humanitarian concerns affecting the day-to-day lives of the people in the region," said Corien Jonker, Chair of the Migration and Refugee Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

"The aim of my six-day visit has been to look into the humanitarian consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia, for a report to be debated by PACE in January 2009. During the course of my visit, I travelled to Sukhumi and the Gali region before holding meetings in Tbilisi with governmental and parliamentary authorities, international organisations and non-governmental organisations. I then visited the so called 'border zone' with South Ossetia."

"I was impressed by the response of the Georgian authorities to the immediate needs of newly displaced persons and the seriousness of their approach to finding durable solutions for those persons recently displaced who have little prospect for return in the near future. The rapid construction of housing under way will alleviate the desperate accommodation needs of many of the new IDPs. The approach to the new IDPs is, however, in stark contrast to the way in which the problems of old IDPs from the earlier conflict were dealt with, and the Government now needs to ensure that the needs of all IDPs, old and new, are met," Ms Jonker said.

She also regretted the on-going lack of security in the border zones of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. She noted that while there was some Georgian police presence, and international monitoring by the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and the OSCE, this was not sufficient to guarantee the safety and return of those living closest to the border.

"The international response in terms of aid has been enormous, and it is important that the $4.5 billion pledged is delivered and that it be transparently accounted for by the Georgian authorities. Immediate humanitarian relief still has to be funded and methods have to be found to provide greater assistance for those living in the regions of Gali and the Kodori Valley as well as the conflict zone of South Ossetia and the Akhalgori district," Ms Jonker added.

"While I was not allowed to visit Tskhinvali on this trip, I have every intention of finding a way to visit the area in the future to meet the people and examine the damage and also the living conditions of the remaining population," she concluded.