Internally Displaced Persons Left Without Aid
At present, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Georgia get 14-laris compensation. Their financial aid is supposed to be stopped in June. The reason for this is a new project, ‘The Program of Social Assistance’, which will begin in June. Most IDPs have not participated in the project because they have not had any information about it.
The project for socially excluded people started at the end of 2005. Broadcasting companies intensively advertised that those who are on the verge of extreme poverty should register at special points in order to receive state aid. In three months time, when the registration information provided has been checked, the people concerned will get adequate assistance. On March 1st the process of registration was completed.
Most IDPs have not been registered because they did not possess information about the program. They believed that they would continue to be given 14 laris compensation even if they did not participate in the program. Some IDPs only learned about the program and the fact that it was compulsory for them to be registered in order to get aid, quite by chance. The Minister for Refugees and Accommodation, Gia Kheviashvili, was not informed about the problem until 25th April, at a meeting of the Commission working on the State Strategy for Refugees.
Ucha Nanuashvili, the Director of the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center, also attended the meeting. Nanuashvili said that the Minister was surprised to hear the information concerning the registration of IDPs. “Giorgi Kheviashvili said that he did not know that the new project aimed at assisting socially excluded people, which had already finished by March 1st 2006, also concerned IDPs and that they should have been registered too. The IDPs were also not informed and that is why only a few managed to register. The Minister also said that he did not know that the IDPs would not be given their 14 laris compensation after June”, stated Nanuashvili.
We contacted the Ministry for Refugees and Accommodation, the press service of which acknowledged that the IDPs were informed about the new project and have already been registered. They added that IDPs were considered as part of the project and that the TV advertisements mentioned this as well. The truth is that the TV advertisements failed to mention IDPs within the context of the project. Vakhtang Megrelishvili, the Deputy Minister of Health Care, confirmed these facts whilst commenting on the situation. “The ‘Poverty Reduction Program’ takes into account all the citizens of Georgia who need aid from the government, including IDPs. The TV advertisements did not mention IDPs because the goal was not to concentrate or highlight any particular group of people. It advertised the project in general”, stated Megrelishvili.
The IDPs demand the deadline for registration be changed. Ucha Nanuashvili recalled that Minister Kheviashvili asked if it was possible to change the deadline, though he did not receive any responses at the meeting. “He wondered if the registration deadline could be changed in order to enable people to apply at the registration points - because the refugees thought they were not involved in the new program. They believed they would receive their compensation anyway. However, after 1st June, IDPs will not receive any aid if they are not registered”, said Nanuashvili.
Minister Kheviashvili did not comment on whether the refugees will have to remain without aid. The press service states that the issue has not been agreed on yet. The Deputy Minister of Health Care says that those who have not been registered yet but do so later will be provided with assistance in three months time. “There are no problems; those who have not been registered will be able to do so whenever they want and they will receive financial aid 3 months after their registration. I cannot see any obstacles. The sum that they will get is more than 14 laris. Naturally, they will not be able to get two types of compensation at once”, said Vakhtang Megrelishvili.
The amounts are as follows: a one-person-family gets 38 laris; a two-person-family - 55 laris, a three-person-family – 70 laris, a four–person- family – 85 laris, a five-person-family – 100 laris, a six-person-family – 115 laris, a seven-person-family – 125 laris and if a family consists of eight people or more, the family gets an extra 10 laris for each additional family member.