|08TBILISI1351||2008-08-10 15:21:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Tbilisi|
R 101521Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9880
UNCLAS TBILISI 001351
1. Embassy officers attended a disaster response management meeting
August 10 led by the UN Resident Country Director Robert Watkins.
Representatives of the major UN agencies, NGO's and donor
organizations discussed the GOG's stated humanitarian response
requirements and how best to coordinate efforts to meet those
requirements. Humanitarian needs were organized into six distinct
sectors: protection, shelter and non-food items, food, logistics,
water/sanitation and health nutrition. Support for IDP's, under the
"protection" sector is being coordinated by UNHCR Senior Program
Officer Rita Richter. Richter provided information on the IDP
situation based on her observations and data provided by the
Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation (MRA).
IDP's: Who? How many? Where are they going?
2. The IDP's are ethnic Georgians from South Ossetia and the Gori
region. There are also media reports that Georgians from the Kodori
Valley are moving to the town of Tsahltubo. A UNOMIG representative
stated that residents of the Upper Kodori began evacuating Saturday
evening. MRA estimated a maximum number of 10,000 IDP's from the
South Ossetia conflict, given that the entire population ethnic
Georgians in South Ossetia is not more than 20,000. The population
of the city of Gori is approximately 50,000, and UNHCR is conducting
an assessment of IDP needs there today.
3. The MRA has established IDP "Collection Centers" in Tbilisi,
Mtskheta (between Gori and Tbilisi), Sagarejo, Lagodekhi and Gori.
The MRA hopes to register and provide IDP identity documents to the
new arrivals. UNHCR's Richter notes that IDP's are just arriving at
these centers, so it is premature to begin tabulating IDP
populations. The MRA told UNHCR that the Tbilisi center has a
capacity of 700, and the Mtskheta center can hold 500. As of noon
today however, the Mtskheta center was fully prepared, but empty.
UNICEF will be shortly conducting an assessment of collection
centers to assess medical and health needs of IDP's. IDP's are not
leaving the conflict areas in an organized way - private cars are
packed with people, some are taking shared taxis (marshrutkas) and
others are on foot trying to hitch rides. Richter observed that no
one seemed to be carrying a great deal of household goods, a sign to
her that people harbor hopes they will soon return to their homes.
NGOs and Supply Provisions
4. Major NGO's involved in IDP support are Save the Children,
Norwegian Refugee Council, Danish Refugee Council, and Actions
Contre La Hambre, as well as a number of local NGO's. UNHCR
mentioned they had 31 school tents, which could sleep 50 people, in
country. They also said they had a stored quantity of blankets and
kitchen sets, with funds for mattresses for up to 3,000 people.
UNHCR's warehouse stock in Dubai -- sufficient for needs of 15,000
-- could arrive in country in one week, provided the Tbilisi airport
is open. The NGO Counterpart International announced that it has
provided 400 bedding sets today to the MRA. It has 8 large
(90'x80') tents, which will be delivered to the MRA tonight or
5. Participants in today's meeting will gather again August 11 to
address the evolving situation and hear directly from Minister of
Health Kavitashvili on the GOG's continuing support requirements.