DRC present since:
Staff on location:
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s the conflicts in the South Caucasus have witnessed different phases and followed multiple patterns including revived ethnic tensions and a severe economic crisis. These resulted in the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict of 1992-1993 which led to the displacement of close to 300,000 persons, in majority Georgians from Abkhazia and to a unilateral declaration of independence of Abkhazia as an entity, to date only recognised by a handful of countries in the world. The Russian-Georgian conflict of 2008 added a complexity to the displacement patterns with a new caseload of displaced originated from Tskhinvali/South Ossetia and hosted in majority in Georgia Tbilisi-administered territories.
While a high concentration of registered IDPs (as per Georgian legislation) reside in Samegrelo region in the western part of Georgia, along the dividing line with Abkhazia, it is to be noted that approximately 45,000-50,000 Georgian ”returnees” reside permanently in the district of Gal/Gali falling as well under the category of officially registered IDPs as per Georgian law, upon their spontaneous return to their places of origin in virtue of a multilateral agreement signed in 1994 under the auspices of the UN.
Addressing vulnerabilities in a responsible way and engaging in poverty reduction are central to DRC work in the South Caucasus.
IDPs remain at the epicenter of DRC programming as they are still seen as a highly vulnerable category in South Caucasus but other marginalised groups in host communities also need special consideration to maintain social cohesion and ensure protection gaps are properly answered. This is particularly true in areas with a high concentration of displaced and conflict-affected persons and where local host communities are often neglected. Integration is only effective if needs of both IDPs and other conflict-affected persons are addressed.
DRC’s presence is unique in the South Caucasus with a granted access to both sides of dividing line. Through its two offices in Abkhazia (Gal/Gali and Sukhum/Sukhumi), one office in Samegrelo (Zugdidi) and one Head Office in Tbilisi, DRC offers an adequate and a timely expertise to address the needs of conflict affected populations and impact positively on their lives.
In Abkhazia, the displacement patterns are different with a large number of “returnees” to Gal/Gali district, Abkhaz and non-Abkhaz communities that have been severely affected by the conflict in the 90s and recently Syrian and Ukrainian nationals in a refugee-like situation. DRC is particularly engaged in rural and remote areas in the absence of many social services. Social cohesion is an important element of DRC programming in Abkhazia.
At each level of decision-making (central, regional, municipal, district or village/community), DRC in the South Caucasus constantly engages to advocate for an effective protection of local populations of concern and to promote the rights of the displaced.
To support the integration of the displaced and conflict-affected persons, DRC South Caucasus program covers five key sectors: economic recovery, access to social services, governance, education and shelter/housing, small-and medium scale infrastructure at community level. We stand for “durable solutions” to enable displaced and other conflict affected persons to permanently and satisfactorily live normal and decent lives.
Whether within or across dividing lines, recognised or not, addressing the needs of the displaced remains our prime focus. IDPs, other conflict affected persons, host communities and vulnerable populations across the DRC South Caucasus operations are targeted equally to promote social coexistence.