08TBILISI2302, GEORGIA: MOIA UPDATES IDP HOUSING STATUS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2302 2008-12-09 14:03 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1916
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2302/01 3441403
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091403Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0544
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002302 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2018 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA:  MOIA UPDATES IDP HOUSING STATUS 
 
REF: A. EMAIL FROM DAVIS-KIRCHNER TO CARC 
     B. TBILISI 2226 
     C. TBILISI 2271 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C) Begin Summary:  On December 9, Minister of Internal 
Affairs (MOIA) Vano Merabishvili briefed members of the 
diplomatic community that internally displaced ersons (IDP) 
from South Ossetia and the Upper Kodori in Abkhazia would 
have homes or will receive compensation to repair existing 
homes within the next two weeks.  To date, a total of 5,366 
houses, each valued at $20,000 USD, have been built for 
August war IDPs.  Merabishvili disseminated a spreadsheet 
with the locations and associated costs of the housing 
construction (Ref A, emailed to EUR/CARC).  Thus far, Georgia 
has spent $129 million GEL on building new homes, and 
anticipates spending an additional $100 million GEL on fixing 
existing homes for families in the buffer zone. The 
government is spending $20-30 million GEL on water projects, 
to include well digging and irrigation, as some communities 
have had their water supply interrupted by de facto Ossetian 
authorities.  The figures do not include the amounts for 
compensation, but this information should be available in 
upcoming weeks.  Merabishvili said that the regional MPs and 
local government representatives decided which families would 
occupy the new homes.  Currently, the government has a plan 
to address the concerns of "older" IDPs from the '92-'93 war 
with Abkhazia, but as of yet there are no concrete details 
beyond attempting to privatize some of the current living 
quarters, mainly located in former government hotels and 
sanitariums, for members of this IDP group.  This would give 
them ownership rights and the possibility of selling this 
property in the future.  Merabishvili praised USAID's winter 
seed project, and estimated that $30 million GEL would be 
realized on the sale, which he said was more revenue than the 
total grape harvest brought in from Kakheti (Ref B).  End 
Summary. 
 
The Options and Methodology 
 
2.  (C) Merabishvili said that the GOG has offered IDPs one 
of three choices:  a house, a flat or compensation ($10,000 
USD).  He figured the 5,366 homes would accommodate 30,000 
people, but this would still not cover all IDPs.  He 
estimated that 28,000 refugees living outside the conflict 
zone would remain, and up to a maximum of 5,000 from the 
August war would still have to reside in communal housing. 
(Embassy note:  This figure is higher than the number usually 
mentioned by international organizations of 30,000 total 
permanent new IDPs.  End note.)  Merabishvili said MPs and 
local government representatives had decided which families 
would occupy the new homes.  IDPs were offered housing based 
on where they were displaced from and the proximity of the 
housing to the displaced location.   For example, those who 
were displaced from Akhalgori will be offered homes in 
Mtskheta-Tianeti, and those who were displaced from Nuli will 
be offered homes in Karaleti (Gori Region).  Some IDPs had 
decided to stay in Gori region, and some took the 
compensation and went elsewhere.  Merabishvili cited Kvemo 
Kartli as a popular destination for relocating IDPs from 
farming communities since they find the soil in Kvemo Kartli 
rich and conducive to cultivation.  He added that Turkish and 
German development funds anticipate building 300 and 500 
homes respectively, which will help as well. 
 
What Happens After The Move-In? 
 
3.  (C)  Merabishvili said that the local municipalities 
would be responsible for the maintenance of the homes after 
Qwould be responsible for the maintenance of the homes after 
move-in.  There are plans for upgrades to drains and sewage 
systems, but it will be the end of the year before these 
figures are known.  There was still no decision if IDPS would 
be given the titles to the homes, or if this would remain in 
government hands.  He said that no one ministry had been 
appointed to be overall contact for the housing once the 
move-ins occur.  Merabishvili admitted that all the IDPS were 
not necessarily happy at their choices, citing as an example, 
the lack of uniformity of quality of the infrastructure, 
which differs from regions to region.  (Comment:  EUMM 
monitors have visited some of the new residents who live in 
new housing in Khurvaleti, Gori District, who said that the 
houses were of such poor quality that they were considering 
taking a Russian passport and returning to South Ossetia.  A 
combined State/USAID/DOD assessment team visiting another new 
settlement near Gori said that inhabitants complained about 
wet cement walls that made their children sick and that the 
settlements had not been planned according to international 
standards, i.e. distance from homes to sewage facilities. 
End Comment.)  The original thought had been to give those 
from farming communities a larger plot of land (1 hectare) 
 
TBILISI 00002302  002 OF 002 
 
 
and situate them in homes farther from the city, and move 
others into developments which are closer to the city, but 
would have smaller plots of land (1/2 hectare).  Some
IDPs 
had tried to "game" the system by signing up for housing and 
compensation, so now MOIA is reviewing its rolls. 
 
The Forgotten IDPS from 92-93 
 
4.  (C)  Merabishvili was quick to point out that 
infrastructure projects for the new houses would also benefit 
those who had been living in the region already, citing as an 
example, the improvements to the water supply systems.  With 
regards to "older" IDPs he said the GoG has not forgotten 
them.  There is a plan being discussed, but there are no 
additional details at this time.  The Ambassador raised 
concerns over the security conditions in Zugdidi, pointing 
out attempts to isolate Georgians by closing bridges and 
forcing passportization, which could result in 3,000 new IDPs 
from Gali in Zugdidi by spring (Ref C.) 
 
Next Steps 
 
5.  (C)  Comment:  The Georgian government and Minister 
Merabishvili moved quickly to implement this complex project 
and realized the goal of getting IDPs into permanent housing 
in record time.  The tougher issues will come once 
Merabishvili steps back fromthe active stage of 
construction, as the Georgian Government tries to fill the 
void to nail down the larger answers of electricity, heat, 
sewage, public transportation, education and jobs.  Local 
government seems ill-equipped for the task.  Insiders at the 
Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation told Emboff that MOIA 
was chosen for the task, well outside its operational sphere, 
because "the job would get done on time and funds dedicated 
to the project wouldn't magically disappear." Government 
sources estimate the number of IDPs from earlier times who 
still need assistance to number approximately 100,000, who 
are now spread throughout Georgia.  How to address their 
needs is definitely on the minds of Georgian officials, and 
early feelers indicate that the international donor 
community, especially the EU, is interested in the long term 
issue as well.  End comment. 
TEFFT

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