UN refugee agency heralds new Georgian action plan for displaced persons

Other News Materials 6 August 2008 02:06 (UTC +04:00)

The United Nations refugee agency yesterday welcomed Georgia's adoption of an action plan to strengthen the country's efforts to alleviate the plight of tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the Caucasus country.

The new plan, the result of months of consultations, includes a series of concrete measures which the Government will carry out to ease the housing situation and to improve the access of IDPs to education and social services, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ron Redmond told reporters at a briefing in Geneva.

Under the plan UNHCR will also be active in finding durable solutions to the shortage of suitable housing for some of the estimated 273,000 IDPs in Georgia.

Meanwhile, almost 1,100 people - including many children - have arrived in North Ossetia-Alania, Russia, by bus from the breakaway region of South Ossetia in Georgia, Mr. Redmond said.

The sudden displacement followed clashes over the weekend, including sniper and mortar fire, between Georgian Government and South Ossetian forces that have led to the deaths of at least six people and injuries to 13 others.

Staff at UNHCR's office in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, say none of the arrivals are seeking asylum and have said the move by bus is a precautionary measure and they hope to return to their homes by the end of the northern summer.

Some of the arrivals have been sheltered in public buildings, such as schools and summer camps, or in private accommodation with friends and relatives. Mr. Redmond added that UNHCR and other agencies are consulting with Russian authorities on the issue.