Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Georgia

Number of IDPsUp to 280,000
Percentage of total populationAbout 6.0%
Start of displacement situation1992
Peak number of IDPs (year)Undetermined
New displacement in 2012
Causes of displacement✓ International armed conflict
✓ Internal armed conflict
✓ Deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement
x Communal violence
x Criminal violence
x Political violence
Human development index72

There were up to 280,000 IDPs in Georgia as of the end of 2012. Most were displaced in the early 1990s as a result of conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Renewed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation over South Ossetia in August 2008 caused another wave of displacement. The fighting was over in less than 10 days, but the underlying issues remain unresolved and South Ossetia and Abkhazia are effectively outside Georgia's control. The breakaway republics continue to oppose full-scale return on the basis that an influx of large numbers of Georgian IDPs would upset their ethnic balance and compromise the security of Ossetians and Abkhaz.

Of the total number of IDPs, most have been displaced since the 1990s and some were displaced again in 2008. In reality the number of people displaced in 2008 is likely to be higher than the official figure, given that the narrow definition of an IDP in Georgia law meant some were excluded from the count.

There are no figures for IDPs displaced within Abkhazia, but up to 50,000 people who fled the region in the 1990s have returned to their place of origin in Gali district over the years. There are also an estimated 10,000 IDPs in South Ossetia from both waves of conflict.

In 2012, inadequate housing remained one of the main outstanding issues for IDPs. Many continued to live in dilapidated collective centres, or in accommodation that they rented, owned or otherwise occupied, which in some cases was also substandard. Seeking a resolution to their poor housing situation, around 1,500 internally displaced families illegally occupied around 50 buildings in Tbilisi and other cities after the October 2012 parliamentary election. The ministry responsible for IDPs, and international organisations profiled the group and found that only some were eligible for government housing assistance. Others had already received support. By the end of the year, many had left because of the onset of winter.

The government continued to facilitate local integration and settlement elsewhere in Georgia by providing housing assistance to IDPs as part of its national strategy on internal displacement. This included the renovation and transfer of ownership of accommodation in collective centres, the construction of new apartments, the use of abandoned housing and the allocation of new social housing units.

The privatisation of collective centre space proceeded faster in 2012 than in previous years, benefiting around 7,650 families. In a further break with the past, the housing locations offered to IDPs tended to be in larger towns rather than remote rural areas with few economic opportunities.

The quality of some of the housing IDPs received was substandard with inadequate foundations, lack of proper insulation, unsafe wiring and poor sanitation. Many families who had signed agreements for their living space were still waiting to have their ownership registered, and access to livelihoods remained difficult as many sites were remote. The selection of beneficiaries for new housing continued to be less than transparent and many IDPs, including highly vulnerable families, are yet to benefit. A significant number of IDPs living in private accommodation are still to receive assistance to improve their housing.

The sustainability of returns remained questionable in 2012. Despite road repairs, infrastructure construction and humanitarian assistance in Abkhazia's Gali district, returnees faced poor housing conditions, insecurity and limited access to basic livelihoods and services. Near the administrative boundary line between Georgia proper and South Ossetia, the security and humanitarian situation improved, but returnees struggled to rebuild their homes and earn an adequate income. Returnees to Akhalgori struggled with insecurity, limited opportunities to generate income and poor access to health care services.

South Ossetia has been largely inaccessible for humanitarian organisations, whose work in Abkhazia remained challenging. The de facto authorities asserted their control by introducing additional administrative conditions on the delivery of assistance. The new Georgian government formed after the October 2012 elections has shown increased understanding of the need to separate political and humanitarian agendas.

The minister responsible for IDPs changed twice during 2012. The ministry adopted a revised action plan for the implementation of the national strategy on displacement. It also set out standards for the temporary relocation of IDPs during renovation of their living spaces, and formed an inter-agency working group to review legislation on IDPs.


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