07TBILISI1601, CHECHEN REFUGEES RECEIVE TEMPORARY RESIDENCE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1601 2007-07-05 13:00 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #1601 1861300
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051300Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6896
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 8071
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4569

UNCLAS TBILISI 001601 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/CARC AND PRM 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PHUM PREF GG
SUBJECT: CHECHEN REFUGEES RECEIVE TEMPORARY RESIDENCE 
PERMITS 
 
 
1.  Summary:  Georgian Minister of Refugees Giorgi 
Kheviasvhili marked World Refugee Day on June 20 by 
distributing temporary residence permits to 600 Chechen 
refugees living in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.  The remainder of 
the estimated 1,300 refugees living in the Gorge will receive 
their permits within the next two months.  The new temporary 
residence permits replace older ID cards that simply 
indicated refugee status, and carry the weight of a full 
legal document.  The permits will be valid for three years 
and will enable refugees to purchase homes, open bank 
accounts, and move freely about the country.  In addition, 
the Ministry of Refugees (MRA) has drafted legislation that, 
if passed, will provide travel documents to all refugees, 
allowing them to travel to third countries.  End Summary. 
 
Permits first step toward integration? 
-------------------------------------- 
 
2.  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
protection officer Edina Dziho told Poloff on June 29 that 
the distribution of temporary residence permits to the 
Chechen refugees living in Pankisi was an important step and 
will likely lead to an overall improvement in the refugees' 
quality of life.  She thought that the permits would be the 
first step toward local integration and full citizenship, but 
added that she was waiting to see what restrictions the MRA 
would place on the permits.  Unlike earlier refugee cards, 
she said, the new temporary residence permits are considered 
full legal documents, allowing refugees to perform everyday 
tasks, such as opening a bank account, that they were 
previously prevented from doing.  The permits also allow 
unhindered travel throughout Georgia, whereas in the past, 
refugees were limited to the Pankisi Gorge and Tbilisi. 
 
3.  In a separate meeting Irakli Kokaia, Director of the 
Department of Migration, Refugees, and Repatriation at the 
Ministry of Refugees, told Poloff that providing refugees 
with legal documents enabling them to open bank accounts was 
necessary to facilitate the distribution of state assistance. 
 On January 1, 2007, the Georgian government started 
providing 14 lari (USD 8.40) a month in assistance to all 
refugees, but apparently none of the refugees could collect 
their money because they could not open bank accounts - the 
funds were only available through a direct account transfer. 
Once a refugee opens an account, he said, the total accrued 
amount (from January onward) will be deposited into their 
account. 
 
Refugee travel documents by 2008 
-------------------------------- 
 
4.  Kokaia also said that the Ministry of Refugees has 
drafted legislation on the creation of travel documents for 
all refugees living in Georgia.  He said the existing 
Georgian law on refugees contradicts the 1951 UN Convention 
on Refugees, and was therefore rewritten.  The documents 
would adhere to guidelines established by the 1951 
Convention, which calls for Contracting (host) States to 
issue travel documents to refugees living in their territory 
for the purpose of traveling to a third country.  The 
Ministry hopes to present the law to Parliament by early 
Fall, he said, with a goal of issuing the first travel 
documents to refugees by early 2008. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
5.  The Ministry's move to provide legal identity papers and 
travel documents is a long overdue step, bringing Georgian 
refugee law in compliance with the 1951 Convention (of which 
Georgia is a signatory) while providing refugees with the 
means to more fully integrate into Georgian society.  The 
residence permits will allow refugees to travel freely 
throughout Georgia, providing them access to employment 
opportunities outside the economically depressed Pankisi 
Gorge.  The presence of Chechen refugees in Pankisi has been 
a source of tension between Georgia and Russia in the past, 
with Russia accusing Georgia of harboring "terrorists" just 
across its border.  By permitting refugees to leave Pankisi, 
the Georgian government can reduce this point of contention 
between the two countries. 
TEFFT

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