09TBILISI819, The Roma in Georgia

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI819 2009-04-29 14:25 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2097
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0819 1191425
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291425Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1476
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 000819 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC, EEB 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM KPAO GG
SUBJECT:  The Roma in Georgia 
 
REF: A) STATE 30437, B) 08 Tbilisi 0589 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  In response to reftel marking International Roma 
Day, the Embassy posted the Secretary's message on its website and 
took the opportunity to meet with the Executive Director of the 
Human Rights Center in Georgia and a representative of the Civil 
Registry of the Ministry of Justice to follow-up on last year's 
report on the situation of the Roma in Georgia (Ref B). In sum, the 
Roma remain isolated from the rest of Georgian society and the 
public services available to registered residents including 
education and health services. 
 
2. (SBU)  The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities reports 
approximately 2,250 Roma reside in Georgia, about 0.05 percent of 
the total Georgian population (from "Recent Migration of Roma in 
Europe, December 10, 2008"). Ucha Nanuashvili, Executive Director of 
the Human Rights Center in Georgia, agrees with the figure. The 
majority of Georgian Roma live in two locations in Tbilsi: Lotkin 
Hill and Navtlugi Bazar in the Samgori district.  Lotkin Hill 
residents came to Georgia between 1920-1930 and identify themselves 
as Moldovans, perhaps because that is how they were registered by 
the Soviets. A large portion of the Roma living in the Navtlugi 
neighborhood may be IDPs from Abkhazia, but lack documentation to 
verify this. Navtlugi is also home to a group of 100-200 Muslim Roma 
who came to Georgia in the 1980's as refugees from 
Nagorno-Karabakh. 
 
Unwillingness to Register Yields Hurdles 
 
3. (SBU) Nanuashvili of the Human Rights Center in Georgia pointed 
out that there is little official support for the Roma in Georgia as 
they are not registered with the government and, without 
documentation, they cannot access health care and education.  His 
office has documented this problem for the Ministry of Justice and 
the Civil Registry but, in a country currently supporting 54,000 
internally displaced people from the 2008 conflict (UNHRC Briefing 
Notes 12/09/08), the small Roma population falls further down on the 
list of immediate government priorities. 
 
4. (SBU) According to Nanuashvili, in Georgia the main occupations 
of the Roma are selling and reselling small items at markets, 
begging and petty crime.  Tbilisi Roma society is closed and is 
subordinated to a community leader, whose identity is usually kept 
secret. Most Roma children do not go to school and start earning 
money for their families at an early age.  Directly related to the 
lack of education and relevant vocational skills, the main problem 
for the Roma population in Georgia is its lack of official 
documentation.  Most Roma do not have documentation including birth 
certificates, as children are usually not born at hospitals. 
Nanuashvili believed that  the Roma community does not aspire to get 
documents.  The lack of proper documents also makes social services 
including, primarily health care, education, and vulnerability 
allowances unavailable to the Roma community. 
 
Ministry of Justice Seeks to Document 
 
5. (SBU) A Representative of the Civil Registry of the Ministry of 
Justice told poloff that the Ministry is working to register 
undocumented residents from a variety of ethnic minorities 
populations of entire mountain villages that have never previously 
been documented. Registering the Roma presents unique challenges due 
to their unique language, frequent geographic movement - some more 
nomadic than stable, and quality of information that can be used to 
verify a person's place and year of birth.  Giorgi Vashadze, Head of 
the Civil Registry explained that the registration of the Roma 
requires deep and sensitive discussion on a case by case basis until 
Qrequires deep and sensitive discussion on a case by case basis until 
some kind of determination can be made for registration of each 
individual.  It is possible but requires interest on the part of the 
Roma as well.  Until they are registered they do not 
bureaucratically exist "- they are not even stateless."  He 
encouraged the Embassy to support a local NGO's efforts with UNHCR 
to register isolated populations in Georgia as a way of increasing 
political will on both sides. 
 
6. (SBU) For the Roma, the vicious cycle of isolation is hard to 
break, but can still be overcome with sufficient will on the part of 
the civil society, the government and the Roma themselves. Post has 
encouraged grant proposals for the Julia Taft Grant, which addresses 
refugees, vulnerable populations and returns, as welcome.  We will 
work to identify NGOs which could utilize this important resource. 
 
TEFFT

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