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UN Refugee Agency Releases Updated Figures on IDPs
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Sep.'08 / 16:58

Of the 127,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Georgia, who were forced to flee the August war, 68,000 have since returned home, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on September 12.

The agency and the Georgian government estimate another 5,000 will go home before the winter starts, bringing up the number of returnees to 73,000, according to UNHCR.

“As for the remaining 54,000 IDPs, UNHCR estimates that 23,000 will need to be provided with alternative shelter through the winter months, but will be able to return home in 2009 once their houses have been rehabilitated,” the agency said in a press release.

“However, the remaining 31,000 individuals are not expected to return in the foreseeable future.”

These people originate from South Ossetia - 22,000; 8,000 from areas currently occupied by Russian troops outside South Ossetia and 1,000 from upper Kodori Gorge.

“Given that Georgia is already hosting 223,000 IDPs from previous conflicts, this new population will in the longer term leave the country with a total of 254,000 internally displaced people,” UNHCR said.

The agency also said that in cooperation with the Georgian government it was trying to put an end “to spontaneous relocations of IDPs from the capital of Tbilisi to the overcrowded tented camp in Gori, which is already packed with some 2,200 people.”

In Tbilisi many IDPs were initially settled by the authorities in public schools, but an attempt is underway to relocated them to other places, mainly kindergartens, so as to ensure school children in the capital start the academic year on time.

“However, some IDPs refuse to be relocated and spontaneously leave for Gori, where many of their relatives and neighbors are accommodated. However, Gori is filled to capacity and UNHCR prefers to reserve remaining tents in the camp for IDPs who were placed with host families who can no longer support them,” the UN refugee agency said.

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