UN Report on Georgian IDPs Re-Released for World Refugee Day

June 20 is World Refugee Day. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres released a report titled “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia.” While the report was initially released on April 30, Guterres and United Nations Georgia again drew attention to it for World Refugee Day.

“The individual’s right to return, in the case of an internally displaced person, derives from his or her right to freedom of movement as stipulated in international human rights instruments. It is essential to recognize that return is both a human right and a humanitarian issue and therefore cannot be directly linked to political questions or the conclusion of peace agreements,” reads the report. These issues “must be addressed irrespective of any solution to the underlying conflict.” The report continues, “At the same time, it is primarily for the individual to assess the risks and make an informed choice as to whether or not to return at a given time. In doing so, a displaced person must be able to take into account all factors that could affect his or her safety, dignity and ability to exercise basic human rights.”

Over the past nine and a half years, the Geneva International Discussions has been a unique forum for Georgia and other conflict participants to discuss security and humanitarian issues, specifically relating to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.

“Despite the difficult nature of the discussions, the complexity of the issues and the divergence of the various positions of the participants, all relevant stakeholders have continued to express their appreciation for the contributions of the Geneva international discussions and the Joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms in Gali and Ergneti and the humanitarian engagement by a variety of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and other actors to the improvement of the overall security and humanitarian situation on the ground,” the report reads.

Guterres drew attention to the unresolved conflict, including the security, humanitarian, human rights, and development challenges that still plague Georgia, particularly those in and displaced from Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. “I remain concerned by the continued negative trends related to so-called borderization, restrictions on the freedom of movement and other unilateral actions, including those that inhibit the possible return of internally displaced persons, as well as the ability of humanitarian and developmental actors to operate freely, especially in South Ossetia”, said Guterres.

On World Refugee Day, Guterres called on all participants in the Geneva International Discussions and all the conflict’s stakeholders to demonstrate greater political will and to undertake practical and constructive efforts to help revitalize the Discussions.

The full report is available for free online.

By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: United Nations

21 June 2018 18:31