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Homeless refugees16.04.2013 | 21:14
A few days ago, Georgian Minister for the persons internally displaced from the occupied territories, refugees and resettlement David Darakhvelidze held a meeting with the Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia Gunter Behlerom in Tbilisi. The Minister briefed the Ambassador on the innovations embedded in the department, plans for the future, basic needs of the refugees and thanked for the support. At the meeting they discussed ways to effectively address the problems of refugees and considered options for closer cooperation. At the same time, the Minister briefed the Ambassador on the work already done in the area. What are the realities of the lives of refugees in Tbilisi? How do their lives change with the adoption of new laws?
Today, the most relevant issue of refugees is a question of housing. The most resourceful and enterprising refugees have managed to somehow settle in an empty room of unfinished buildings and dysfunctional institutions. The rest of them are left without a roof over the head and still huddle at relatives. It is quite natural that the first thing the Ministry plans to address is to provide housing for refugees. The new project developed by Darakhvelidze's department is to be fulfilled during the next 4 years. According to the Minister, to implement the plan they need 300 million GEL per year. The area under the construction of multi-storey buildings in Tbilisi, 4 hectares, is already selected.
Lely Beselia is a native of Sukhum. She moved to Tbilisi with her son, a war veteran. Ironically, after the Russian-Georgian war, after failing to find work in Georgia, young man left for Russia. But in Russia he married a citizen of the Russian Federation, moved to Ukraine with the family and settled there. Lely Beselia says that the war and years of insecurity have thoroughly spoiled her son's health, and now she has to think about how to make son move back to Georgia.
- Recently I was at a reception at the Ministry of Defense and failed to find him in the register. They reassured me that it was possible to include him into the register again. We only need testimony of those who fought along with him.
- Do you want to make your son and his family move back here?
- He cannot stay there. He always needs treatment and medicines, he has diabetes and no money to buy medicines. I would have long taken him back, but I even have no place to live. I was not provided housing. All the time I huddle at relatives. I have changed four addresses. A room where I live now belongs to the granddaughter of my cousin, who has long been dead. This is a three-room apartment; one family is renting two rooms, and I occupy the third one. The owner is going to come, make repairs and sell the apartment. She lives in Rostov. So I cannot move to my son or even visit him due to lack of money.
- Do you receive a pension or benefits?
- No, only pension of 125 GEL. I live very frugally, having to count every penny. I recently got a problem with the teeth, I had to remove two of them, and thus I exceeded my monthly budget.
- Why do not you receive benifits?
- I do not know. I was registered as a socially needy living below the poverty line. But this program, it appears, is designed for 4 years. And then it must be reset, agents come and check how the life has changed and re-evaluate life conditions. Agent came to me. My situation has not changed. As I said, in the neighboring 2 room there are living the tenants. A woman has recently got a job, bought a washing machine and refrigerator, and took a credit for that. So the agent watchs the apartment and records something. I told her that I have nothing to do with them, I have a gas cylinder. Here's a bucket of water, the water supply is down, the cranes do not work, I have to carry buckets of water. I asked her to write this down. Well, when she finished inventory she gave me to sign it. And I was stupid enough to sign. And in the end it turned out that the Ministry made a decision that I was not entitled to get social assistance. So I'm living of 125 GEL.
- Have you tried to contact the department or any organization for help?
- I've appealed to different structures and human rights organizations. In February, I tried to meet with Darakhvelidze. But I was told that he was busy until the summer. But recently, on 11 April, I came to one of the deputies, Merab Menabda. He well received me, was polite, listened attentively. And he says that they have a program for 4 years. I asked if they could speed up? He promised that he would try to help me, given my circumstances. They must tell via TV where to go for assistance, it will be necessary to fill in some questionnaire with 100 questions. Merab says that foreign representatives will deal with us. We'll see, Lely Beselia says.
Ms. Beselia probably meant the Swiss Development Agency - a major partner of the Ministry for Refugees. Each year it carries out different projects to help refugees and immigrants in Georgia. This year, they are going to carry out a 700 thousand francs project. They are also intend to conduct construction of private houses for refugees in western Georgia. In this regard, we have a question to Lely Beselia.
- And if they allocate you a living space outside Tbilisi, would you move?
-There is a law under whichthose who live directly in Tbilisi for 10 years must get housing within the city. So I hope that i won't have to move to an unfamiliar place. Now I am waiting.