Georgia: assistance for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and destitute civilians
Ten years after the conflict between Georgia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia, the area still faces considerable humanitarian challenges. The ICRC provides regular essential food and non-food items to destitute persons and IDPs and runs Agro, Trade and Craft (ATC) programmes helping destitute households become self-sufficient.
This is an edited version of an article first published in Russian in the newspaper "P.S.".
In 2002, the situation in Georgia remained unstable and social conditions very difficult. Therefore, the ICRC resumed its assistance activities, interrupted in 1995, by distributing food rations to 20'000 internally displaced persons and to the resident population.
While the stories told by the victims of armed conflict may all seem alike, each one is in fact unique.
Marina Mandaria, IDP, ATC beneficiary, Trader.
The only thing that cheers up Miona Kharbedia, bedridden and abandoned by her family, is the arrival of the ICRC vehicle. Time passes slowly in her narrow, dark room with its broken floor. There is no furniture except for that strange thing that serves as a bed.
" When we're out of food, Miona and I start counting the days for the ICRC to come and deliver wheat, flour, oil, salt. Our pension is not high enough to cover our medicines, so sometimes we don't have money left for bread. We often have to cook beans. When we're out of these goods, we start waiting for the next delivery " , says Miona's husband.
Seventy-eight other very destitute beneficiaries depend on the ICRC's assistance as well. They receive 21 kilos of food and non-food items on a quarterly basis.
" When I receive the ICRC's assistance, my neighbour bakes bread or " lobiani " (beans pie) for me and I share it with her. I have no gas, so I cannot cook. I am always happy when the assistance arrives; I then have enough sugar and can put plenty in my tea. In winter, they provide us with candles and we don't have to stay in the dark. " , says Ms. Eteri, another beneficiary of ICRC's food assistance.
In addition to assisting the disabled, the ICRC also runs ATC projects for the able-bodied. Instead of receiving traditional food rations, they receive financial support to set up trade or crafts. In the agricultural field, the beneficiaries receive support to set up greenhouses or to start raising chickens or pigs, for example.
In 2004, the Agro, Trade and Craft programme covered the Chkhorotsku, Martvili, Tsalenjikha, Zugdidi and Tskaltubo regions. In 2005, the programme spread to the Abasha, Khobi, Kutaisi, Poti and Senaki regions.
Participation in the craft project enabled Leila Ketiladze, an IDP from Gali, to replace her neighbour's sewing machine with her own. She even has customers now. She had a l ot of business when the new academic year started. She could earn up to fifty Laris ( approx. 25$ ) per week.
Nino Kharabadze, IDP, ATC beneficiary.
" With the money that the ICRC gave me, I bought a sewing machine, scissors, some fabric and thread. Now that I have all these, more people ask me to make clothes for them and I can support my children. Though, it would be better to receive food assistance too " , she smiles.
Tea Gagua also participated in this project and she now has her own hairdressing equipment. She supports a family of six.
Nino Kharabadze, who lives in the collective centre, set up a mill. She earns a daily income and is very motivated.
" We buy corn, grind it and sell the flour. I can pay for my child's studies. I am very happy. I prefer this to receiving food assistance " .
This year was very fruitful for Geronti Khmelidze, who keeps bees. Thanks to the ICRC's money, he bought four beehives and collected 130 kilos of honey. " We benefit both from eating a natural product and selling it. Of course it is very labour intensive but at least I can support my family. "
IDP Marine Mandaria added her own savings to the 330 Laris given her by the ICRC and bought some goods in Tbilisi to sell them locally. She has to travel a lot, but she is satisfied.
The ICRC assists the Georgian government but doesn't aim to substitute it. When the assistance programmes are completed, the ICRC will leave able-bodied beneficiaries more or less self-sufficient. As of 2006, the government itself will assist " group A " beneficiaries (disabled people) in the framework of the poverty reduction programme.