Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July 2014, 16:05 GMT

Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Georgia

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 19 April 2012
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Georgia, 19 April 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f97fb6128.html [accessed 11 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Quick facts
Number of IDPsAt least 257,000
Percentage of total populationAt least 6%
Start of current displacement situation1992, 2008 (South Ossetia); 1994, 2008 (Abkhazia)
Peak number of IDPs (Year)Undetermined
New displacement0
Causes of displacementArmed conflict, generalised violence, human rights violations
Human development index74

People in Georgia have been displaced by several waves of conflict. Fighting erupted in the early 1990s in the autonomous areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, displacing at least 215,000 people within Georgia. Ceasefire agreements were signed by 1994, but hostilities continued sporadically. Conflict broke out again in 2008 between Georgia and the Russian Federation over South Ossetia, and around 157,000 people were internally displaced, the majority of whom were able to return within months. The conflicts were unresolved in 2011; South Ossetia and Abkhazia remained outside the effective control of Georgia and the return of IDPs was largely not feasible.

At the end of 2011, the government had registered, in areas under its control, about 236,000 IDPs displaced since the 1990s, about 17,000 since 2008 and about 3,000 who were displaced in the 1990s and again in 2008. The number of IDPs still displaced since 2008 was higher as some were still not registered as such. Legislative amendments at the end of 2011 narrowed its IDP definition further, to include only those fleeing an area occupied by a foreign state.

There were also an estimated 20,000 IDPs in South Ossetia from both waves of conflict. The number of IDPs in Abkhazia was unknown since their situation was never monitored; however some 50,000 people who fled Abkhazia in the 1990s had returned to their place of origin in Gali district in Abkhazia.

During 2011 the government continued to demonstrate its commitment to durable solutions and implement its strategy for IDPs, with a continued focus on their housing. Around 40 per cent of IDPs were still in collective centres, many of them in former dormitories, kindergartens or schools. The refurbishment of these centres and registration of IDPs' ownership of their assigned spaces in them had significantly slowed, in favour of the closure of other collective centres and temporary shelters and the relocation of their residents in new or refurbished housing.

While the majority of relocated IDPs were satisfied with their new homes, there were shortcomings in the process and outcomes. Some IDPs felt rushed to make a decision with little information or legal assistance. The criteria for selecting families for new housing were unclear, the most vulnerable people were not prioritised and there was no effective mechanism for lodging complaints. The quality of housing offered to IDPs varied: some received new apartments in towns or cities, others got abandoned rural homes. Most relocated IDPs reported there were few economic opportunities near their new home.

Within this process, more than 1,600 internally displaced families were evicted between June 2010 and August 2011. Depending on their status, some were offered alternative accommodation or cash. Evictions from temporary shelters were not always in line with the legislation and adopted procedures. Many IDPs who had opted for cash were still waiting to receive it at the end of 2011.

Overall, most IDPs continued to endure inadequate living conditions. Most collective centres did not meet minimum shelter standards. Meanwhile, IDPs dispersed in other housing still did not receive housing support. Furthermore, mechanisms to restore IDPs' housing, land and property or provide them with compensation had not been put in place.

Some return areas near the administrative boundary line with South Ossetia remained unsafe, while its near-total closure meant that returned IDPs could not access farmland, water or markets on the other side. In Gali district in Abkhazia, returned IDPs continued to endure terrible housing conditions, insecurity and limited freedom of movement. Without Abkhaz passports they were increasingly unable to access services, and the quality of education and health care remained poor.

The Georgian government has made increasing efforts to improve the situation of IDPs, especially since 2008. The ministry responsible has, however, been left to implement plans with increasingly limited resources and support. An improved response would necessitate more accurate data and prioritisation of the needs of the most vulnerable IDPs, more transparent decisions and greater compliance with adopted standards. Authorities in control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should also ensure that the rights of IDPs and returned IDPs are protected.

UN agencies, international organisations and NGOs continued to assist IDPs in 2011, though only ICRC had access to South Ossetia while access to Abkhazia was increasingly challenged. UN human rights bodies made numerous recommendations to Georgia, including to compile disaggregated data and improve the integration and access to housing, food and livelihoods of IDPs and in particular internally displaced women. The CoE's Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population also urged the government to improve IDPs housing and livelihoods.

Ultimately, the conflicts must be resolved if IDPs are to achieve durable solutions.

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