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Georgia: UN official praises new strategy to help internally displaced persons

Georgia: UN official praises new strategy to help internally displaced persons

A senior United Nations envoy for the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) today praised Georgia’s new draft strategy for dealing with the problem, especially the right to return and to local integration, but stressed the need to see that the provisions are carried out.

“The challenge is to turn words on paper into reality in order to end the continuing suffering of the displaced in Georgia,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons Walter Kälin said following a visit to the country.

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced during separatist wars in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions during 1990 and Mr. Kälin recalled how he had been shocked by the miserable living conditions of many IDPs during a visit he made last year.

“Allowing and assisting internally displaced persons to integrate into society and live normal lives in dignity, and respecting their right to return to their homes and communities, are not mutually exclusive,” he had said at the time. “Rather, the two principles reinforce each other.”

In today’s statement, he commended the draft’s reaffirmation of human rights and called on the Government and Parliament to finalize its adoption without delay.

“One of the main strengths of the strategy is that it has been developed through a broad-based consultative process which brought together relevant State agencies, IDP associations and civil society, as well as the international community,” he said. “The participation of displaced persons from the outset is likely to render policy responses more effective.”