Shida Kartli after the August 2008 War: Challenges and Solutions

We are pleased to share with you the December edition of the CIPDD Policy Review - Shida Kartli after the August 2008 War: Challenges and Solutions written by Erekle Urushadze.

The August 2008 Russian-Georgian war had a major impact on the Georgian region of Shida Kartli, adjacent to South Ossetia, the main theatre of war operations. Given that for about two months after the war a large part of this region constituted a buffer zone controlled by Russian troops, much of its population fled. A large majority of residents have since returned to their native villages, though the security situation remains precarious and frequent abductions represent a major challenge, adding to the general sense of insecurity. The economic and social situation in Shida Kartli deteriorated considerably as a result of the war, as local residents have had to cope with the loss of homes, transport, livestock and agricultural equipment. There appears to be a general confusion and discontent among the locals regarding the volume of government aid, while IDPs from South Ossetia, who live in special settlements built in Shida Kartli, face a number of significant problems, including the lack of access to information.

The Georgian government, NGOs and international actors have conducted various activities in the region since the end of hostilities and have taken some important steps in order to solve the problems of local residents and IDPs and to prevent a new conflict. However, further measures are required in order to address the existing political, security, economic and social challenges of Shida Kartli. This report examines these challenges and offers a number of recommendations for the actors operating in the region in order to deal with these challenges effectively.

International actors interested in preserving peace and stability in Georgia are advised to assist the Georgian government in devising effective security arrangements for the population of Shida Kartli, while the government itself should examine the economic and social needs of the local residents more closely. Meanwhile, governmental organizations could undertake to provide IDPs with a better access to information. In particular: 
• International actors must help the Georgian government in devising effective security arrangements for the parts of Shida Kartli adjacent to South Ossetia. The Georgian government is unlikely to be able to resolve the problem on its own and any attempts at this could potentially lead to the resumption of hostilities.
• International actors must monitor the human rights situation in Akhalgori, including the process of distribution of South Ossetian passports there.
• The Georgian government should avoid setting up any unnecessary barriers hindering the movement in and out of Akhalgori as these are likely to affect the living conditions of the district’s remaining Georgian population. 
• The Georgian government should examine the current state of Shida Kartli’s agricultural sector and consider the possibility of allocating additional aid to those affected worst by the war, including the households that lost their land.
• The Georgian government needs to negotiate with the South Ossetian leadership a lasting solution to the continuous rows over the supply of electricity and water in order to avoid further damage to the region’s economy.
• The Georgian government must supply the residents of affected villages with accurate and comprehensive information about the volume and types of government aid and compensations they are entitled to receive in order to address the current confusion and discontent.
• The Georgian government must take additional measures to provide IDPs with greater access to information. Georgian NGOs could also conduct information campaigns to ensure that IDPs know who to contact about their problems and are aware of the types of aid they are entitled to receive.


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