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Georgia: Working to improve living conditions for the displaced

23-02-2006 News Release 06/08

On 23 February the ICRC and the Georgian authorities signed a memorandum of understanding on a project to improve living conditions for some 3,000 displaced people.

The beneficiaries were displaced around 15 years ago as a result of the conflicts, still unresolved, with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They are now in 33 collective centres situated in western Georgia and in the Shida Kartli region.

The ICRC has undertaken to upgrade the centres’ water supply and sanitation systems, and to reconstruct roofs where necessary.

According to Michel Vouilloz, ICRC water and habitat programme coordinator, “one of the main purposes of the project is to provide access to safe water. In almost all the collective centres people have to carry water over long distances, and they cannot be sure it is safe to drink. We are going to change this. Having water means having a better life, and improved hygiene and sanitation as well.”

In carrying out this work the ICRC is cooperating closely with the Georgian Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation, since it is the national authorities that bear primary responsibility for dealing with problems resulting from internal displacement and for ensuring that those displaced receive aid.

Displaced people living in the collective centres who participate in repair work have an opportunity to receive additional income and to gain a sense of ownership. David Kartozia, 63, is the oldest person taking part. “I was happy to do something useful for our ‘temporary’ house. I accepted the offer without thinking about it much. Now, when my family or our neighbours admire the results of the project, I feel happy and proud: ‘there,’ I tell them, ‘is my modest contribution to its success.’”

Between 2002 and 2005 the ICRC improved livin g conditions for some 10,500 displaced people in 77 collective centres.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Maia Kardava, ICRC Tbilisi, tel. +995 32 35 55 10  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24