TBILISI, DFWatch – Refugees in Georgia once more demonstrated for ther rights Tuesday in front of the Refugee Ministry building.
About fifty people had gathered to ask for a meeting with the minister.
After ten minutes of arguing at the entrance, the refugees were let in.
They were all let upstairs, except several TV cameramen and a grandmother with her two grandsons standing at the entrance looking at a sign which said Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied territories Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia.
“This ministry doesn’t care about refugees, especially us, from Abkhazia,” she tells DF Watch.
At first, she refuses to talk, but then approaches us and starts to tell her story. Every time there is a demonstration, she comes with her grandchildren to lend support, but nothing changes. Today, she has lost all hope and decides to leave.
There was a house in Gagra, small town five kilometers from the Black Sea coasts, where she used to live with her husband and children.
“Yes, I didn’t have work there either, but I had a piece of land. We had our own fruits and vegetables and we lived better this way.”
After the war in Abkhazia, she and her family resettled here in Tbilisi.
“Hundreds of people are living squeezed in total residential for twenty 17-18 years. You don’t know what our conditions were. There was only one toilet for a whole corridor, for tens and hundred of people.”
She has three grandchildren. Two are in tenth grade, the girl is in seventh grade. Her family received 28 lari, or USD 17, for each family member as refugees allowance.
“Do you know what happened? We appealed for social allowance for family, which is under the minimum wage. We were defined as under minimum rage, appointed social allowance, but they canceled allowance for refugees.”
According to information of Social Service Agency, which is a body of the Health Ministry, 30 lari is allocated for a family’s oldest member, which is about USD 18, each other member receives 24 lari or USD 14.
We called the press office of the Service Agency, which told us that a family can decide whether to appeal or not about receivomg allowance for a family under the minimum wage; however this will cause suspension of IDP allowance.
“This is a joke. There is two lari difference, they are just joking with us. One of my girls is in tenth grade. What can she buy for 24 lari — a shoe? Pencil? Notebook?”
She is 74, so she receives pension. But she says often, she collects her pension in advance because the money is never enough.
2011 Data from the Social Service Agency say that part of the population under the poverty line is 1 632 403 people, which is 36.5 percent of the whole population. 394 819 or 8.7 percent of the whole population is poor and receives state financial support.
According to data from May 2012, there are 227 435 internally displaced people and refugees in Georgia receiving allowance.
According to the Ombudsman’s annual report, 94 percent of refugees come from the conflicts in the 1990s, while six percent are from the 2008 war.
The grandmother says she would rather live in Abkhazia than in Tbilisi in poverty.
“Sometimes I think to take flags, grab my family and go forward, go across the border to my Abkhazia and if they shoot let them shoot. At least I will die and it will end. But sometimes I have hope that they will let us in. They might have shot us five years ago, but I don’t know what will happen now.”
As for today’s meeting with the minister, the sides agreed that the ministry will review a hundred cases of refugee families until next week. Then they will hold another meeting to speak about details.