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Three UN agencies launch joint cash assistance programme for displaced persons in Georgia

© UNICEF Georgia / 2008 / Cliff Volpe
At the moment up to 30,000 people are still internally displaced as a result of the last year's conflict. They are living in collective centres in Tbilisi and other regions as well as in new settlements built by the Government of Georgia during the winter

TBILISI, Georgia – February 18, 2009

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a joint cash assistance programme for people displaced during the August 2008 crisis in Georgia.

The programme is implemented with support from the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), USAID and other donor organizations, in collaboration with the Georgian Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation (MRA) and the Civil Registry Agency of Georgia (CRA).

Through a WFP-led direct cash transfer system, short-term financial assistance will be provided to those who due to the August conflict left their homes in the Tskhinvali, Java and Akhalgori districts as well as to the Kurta, Tikvi, Eredvi and Azhara communities and those who are currently registered in the Civil Registry Agency of Georgia.

The programme will be implemented during a three-month period from February through to April 2009.  Beneficiaries will receive the following types of cash assistance:

  • One-time assistance in the amount of 100 Lari for purchasing winter clothes. UNICEF will provide this assistance for children under six years of age and UNHCR will target IDPs over 16 years old
  • Monthly cash assistance in the amount of 100 Lari will be provided by UNICEF to purchase complementary food and hygienic items for displaced children up to 2 years old
  • Monthly cash assistance in the amount of 25 Lari for complementary food items (including fruits, vegetables and dairy products) will be distributed by WFP to whole caseload but the under 2 years old

The cash assistance will be provided in addition to the basic food items (wheat flour, pasta, vegetable oil, sugar, beans and iodized salt) regularly distributed by WFP.

Cash assistance will be provided through family bank accounts opened in the People’s Bank of Georgia. Each eligibale family will receive a plastic banking card which will be issued to an adult female member of a family (whenever this is not possible, cards will be issued to the adult males).

Up to 30,000 beneficiaries will receive cash assistance. For this programme, WFP allocated 2,864,952 Lari; UNICEF – 766,490 Lari; and UNHCR – 2,983,032 Lari thanks to the generous support from donor countries and agencies.

Preparation for this programme started in December 2008. Since then, Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation and the Civil Registry Agency; beneficiary lists have been obtained from the CRA to identify the caseload for each type of cash allotment; agreements have been signed with the People’s Bank of Georgia; and the list of the beneficiaries have been provided to the bank. Also, WFP conducted training for MRA staff. A special hotline is operating within the MRA to address questions that may arise during the programme implementation. As a final step, posters and leaflets were printed and disseminated among the beneficiaries to ensure full visibility and transparency of the programme.

The three sister UN agencies are proud to commence the joint cash assistance programme and plan a thorough monitoring of its implementation in cooperation with the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation and the Civil Registry Agency of Georgia.

UNHCR is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. UNHCR has for many years been actively helping a certain proportion of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – currently an estimated 12.8 million, or half the global total. In Georgia UNHCR is mandated to protect and assist the 220,000 IDPs from previous internal conflicts and has in addition the ‘lead’ role for addressing the protection and shelter needs of new IDPs. Since August 2008 UNHCR Georgia assisted and protected 133,000 IDPs and returnees, managed the tent camps, provided shelter, winterized up to 150 Collective Centres and distributed several hundred thousands of non-food items.

UNICEF is on the ground in 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  In response to the displacement of 133,000 people during the August crisis, UNICEF provided school, recreation and hygiene supplies to 73,000 children as well as mine risk education and psychosocial training for teachers in all conflict affected areas.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency and the UN’s frontline agency for hunger solutions. This year, WFP aims to feed around 100 million people in 77 countries. Since August 2008, WFP have provided food and nutrition assistance to 138,000 IDPs, returnees and other population groups in conflict-affected areas. A total of 4,830 tons of various food commodities have been distributed to beneficiaries throughout the country. WFP leads food security and logistics clusters providing warehousing and transportation services to UN agencies and NGO community.

For more information please contact:

Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georguia
Maya Kurtsikidze, UNICEF/Tbilisi, (e-mail:

Piter Nocolaus, UNHCR Representative in Georgia
Rita Richter, UNHCR/Tbilisi (email:

Lola Castro, WFP Representative in Georgia
Yulon Tsilosani, WFP/Tblisi, (e-mail:



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