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Georigan IDPs on Verge of Starvation in Kakheti Region

03.10.2008
Were Tens of Thousands of GEL Collected from Businesspersons Squandered?

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

Vano Merabishvili, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia reported to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili about the work the Georgian government is conducting for helping the people who incurred loses from the Russian aggression of August. However, the Minister of Internal Affairs did not mention anything about the IDPs residing in the Kakheti region. Most of them continue to live in under the most unbearable of conditions.  Bread, let alone medicines and the most essential of products are being provided only in small quantities. There is not an adequate amount for all IDPs. They are receiving this aid within the frameworks of UN World Food Program. On top of all their other problems, the meager aid is not even being distributed on time. No one knows where the representatives of district governments within Kakheti region spent tens of thousands of GEL that were raised from businesspersons and employees of Kakheti regional organizations, and some was funded from various state bodies.

Officially, 10,000 IDPs were registered on August 25 and 2, 000 on September 6 in Kakheti Region. However, there are only 645 IDPs in the region at present; 117 are live in a collative camp in the village of Tokhliauri, Sagarejo District, 18 in former boarding school in the village of Bodbiskhevi, Sighnaghi District and 21 continue to reside in the boarding school for orphans in the city of Telavi. The rest are living in private houses in various districts of the Kakheti region.

The IDPs used to receive food, clothing and other essential products international organizations, and such supplies were provided by various countries, the Government of Georgia and many private companies. The Kakheti Region’s district governors were able to mobilize a total of 137,800 all together from their state budgets for the benefit of IDPs. Under the pressure applied by district governors, money was also collected from the employees of Kakheti Regional state bodies and various organizations that were state funded. However, this money was never registered anywhere. We also do not know how much money was allocated under an oral order of Kakheti Regional Governor from the businesspersons working in Kakheti Region. The businesspersons say that the mobilized money was transferred to all Kakheti district governors’ offices. However, only Sagarejo and Telavi District governors make information on the amount of raised funds transparent as well as the information on how the financial resources were spent.

“The board of trustees created by the businesspersons working in Samegrelo District raised 17,135 GEL for IDPs. The money was spent on food, clothing, shoes, technical equipment, medicines, hygiene products and other things for the IDPs,” states Gia Chalatashvili, Sagarejo District Governor.

Zurab Butskhrikidze, Telavi District Governor informs that the total value of the clothing, shoes, provisions and other various products distributed among the IDPs by the local businesspersons came to approximately 20, 000 GEL. The Telavi District Governor makes it clear that the raised money was used as intended.

IDPs residing in Kakheti region state that the products are given to them only within the World Food Program. They receive 100 grams of sugar,  350 grams oil, 400 grams of four and 0,50 grams of salt per person every 10 days. The IDPs state this is very little and they are hungry most of the time. Often they do not even have bread as an essential stable. 

Natia Chechelashvili, the IDP from Karaleti village, Gori District who found shelter with a husband and 3 minors in an abandoned house in Vejini Village, Gurjaani District has not received any kind of aid for 15 days now. The house is wrecked. The ceiling might fall down at any time. The IDP family used to live in the yard. However, the situation worsened when it started to become cold outside. The family was then forced to go inside the wrecked house.

“I have addressed Davit Macharashvili, head of Social Division within the Gurjaani District Governor’s Office numerous times. However, he refused to help me and even insulted me verbally. I have not received any kind of aid for 15 days now. I feed my children with mouldy bread. A  bakery house guard gave the bread to me,” states Chechelashvili, an IDP from Karaleti.

Aleksandre Imerlishvili, First Deputy of Gurjaani District Governor informs that they had been helping Chechelashvili earlier. However, he said at the present moment the local government does not have enough funds to adequately continue supporting her.

The Human Rights Center continues monitoring the process of IDP aid program implementation. The organization found out that tens of thousands of GEL having been collected by the Social Division of Gurjaani District Governor’s Office from local businesspersons and employees of budgetary funded oganizations were spent without purpose. The information on majority of funds is still inaccessible.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia demands that the materials on spending IDP funds that is not defined with purpose be now provided.

Shota Khizanishvili, head of MIA Press Department stated that “purposeless” spending of these funds is a criminal case. The Ministry of Interior is ready to immediately react on the provided materials.” 

The Human Rights Centre states that if the MIA is actually interested in investigating the case of purposeless spending of IDP funds and the organization is ready to provide all necessary materials to the ministry when the organization finishes its investigation.

However, Lia Khuroshvili, the lawyer of HRIDC states that it woudl be nice if the ministry itself started the investigation at its own initiation. “Unlike us, it will not be problematic for the Ministry to obtain public information and research all existing materials,” stated the lawyer. 

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