A Year after the War
Some 30,000 Georgians remain displaced after a five-day armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008. Most of them face a future away from their homes.
The crisis initially caused about 150,000 to flee their villages. It damaged local infrastructure, affected agriculture works and left many people, IDPs and local residents, without a source of income.
- 30,000 Georgians remain displaced after a five-day armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008.
- With 4.4 million Euros from the European Union and USD 1.2 million of its own funds, UNDP helps the displaced to rebuild their lives away from home.
- UNDP assistance focuses on the areas which are critical for restoring livelihoods - basic infrastructure, agriculture, vocational education, jobs.
International agencies were swift in mobilising assistance to complement humanitarian response of the Georgian Government. Early recovery got underway at the same time as the provision of clean water, food and shelter.
With 4.4 million Euros from the European Union and USD 1.2 million of its own funds, UNDP was able to help people immediately. The assistance focused on the areas which were critical for restoring livelihoods in the regions most affected by the conflict.
UNDP worked to fix water supply systems, rebuild schools and clinics, help local farmers to sow winter wheat, plant new orchards and receive small loans for agriculture businesses. Special attention was paid to vocational training for those left jobless and to assisting the displaced and local residents in finding short and long-term employment.
Gocha Petriashvili was an agronomist in Nuli, a small village close to Tskhinvali. He had to flee after his village was set on fire in August 2008. With his wife and three children Gocha lives in the Akhalsopeli settlement far away from home. With a micro-loan of 1,000 Euros, he plans to become a farmer and grow wheat.
“There is nothing left back there, our village was destroyed. We have to start a new life here.”
Many of the displaced are small farmers who fled the war leaving all they owned behind – houses, gardens, orchards and livestock. Agriculture plots provided by the Government are the main source of income for those who live in the IDP settlements.
“We are farmers and that is what we are good at. You can make your life if you work hard and never give up. I hope to come back one day and rebuild what was destroyed. But for the time being, we cope with this small house and a piece of land,” says Shota Sherazadishvili, IDP.
Before August 2008, Shota lived in Kheiti, a small village on the outskirts of Tskhinvali. He sent his wife and four daughters away as the war broke out, but stayed behind to look after his house and seven cows. He only left as air shelling started. Shota’s family settled in Teliani, an IDP village. Their cottage is equipped for winter and a small plot of land gives just enough food to survive. Shota says he would be happy with at least one cow but he understands it’s too expensive.
With help from UNDP, about 90 displaced families managed to grow orchards and fruit gardens. UNDP also assisted to cultivate 650 ha of arable land and fix irrigation channels which serve the IDP settlements and nearby villages.
Zeinab Khubaev is ethnic-Ossetian married to ethnic-Georgian. She has nothing left from home in the village Charebi; not even the baptismal crosses of her children, her biggest regret.
“I had no time to pack. We were hiding in the woods for three days because of shelling, and then moved away with the Georgian troops. I know that my house back there was destroyed. Here we have a roof over our heads and some land for farming. We do receive a lot of help. But I still hope to go back to my real home one day,” Zeinab says.
People look into the future with hope in the IDP villages. But they also look back to the life before the conflict. Although reconstruction efforts have been made and the immediate assistance has been provided, this still might not be enough for those who spend yet another winter in the settlements.