UNAG helps to protect refugees and asylum seekers through one of its most established projects, acting as an implementing partner for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 1998.
Program objectives in this area are diverse, encompassing most aspects of the protection agenda. Specifically, UNAG raises awareness within official and non-governmental bodies through dissemination of information regarding refugee and asylum legislation and practices. These activities help develop the skills of relevant governmental protection agencies and assist them in better understanding and overcoming problems concerning refugees, asylum-seekers, and stateless persons.
UNAG works to develop links of cooperation between protection/status determination agencies and law-enforcement representatives. We also regularly disseminate information and analysis through the newsletter Refuge, gather and analyse information from the field regarding refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons, and provide background papers on Georgia.
Awareness and Dissemination
The public awareness team publishes the quarterly trilingual (English, Russian, and Georgian) newsletter Refuge, which covers a diverse set of topics on refugee protection, including field reports from Georgia, as well as the latest international news and legislative updates. The newsletter is distributed among relevant non-governmental agencies and all governmental bodies (executive, legislative and judiciary), international organizations, and embassies accredited in Georgia.
UNAG helps educate the border police by establishing the curriculum of the Training Center of the Georgian Border Guard Service. UNAG also conducts workshops on international refugee protection for judges, lawyers, representatives of the Council of Justice, and the Ministry for Refugees and Accommodation.
As an operational agency in the field of protection, UNAG receives feedback from field offices on the situation regarding refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons. We provide background papers on Georgia and, through UNHCR, assist authorities in foreign countries in receiving country-of-origin information so that they can decide on asylum claims from Georgia.
Country-of-origin information reports are a supplementary information source for inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and other interested stakeholders operating in the field of refugee protection and asylum-related issues. The reports provide detailed information on specific target groups and the most significant problems that may lead to emigration from Georgia.
UNAG renders legal assistance to refugees and asylum seekers, including legal advice and court representation to refugees who have filed complaints related to issues such as deportation, extradition, birth registration, denial of registration as asylum-seekers, and denial of refugee status. Activities under this area are closely coordinated and directly supervised by the UNHCR Protection Unit.
Fostering Dialogue about Refugee Issues
The UNAG is deeply concerned with the issue related to the integration of refugees from Chechnya currently living in the Pankisi Gorge into Georgian communities. These refugees and the local population in the Gorge have been living together for nearly 6 years, during which time they have continually competed for meager social services, which has led to the creation of a tense situation between the communities living in the Pankisi Gorge. UNAG, with support from the National Endowment for Democracy, has responded to this persisting problem by introducing a project that applies one durable method of solution – the integration of these refugees directly into Georgian society. The project was launched in September 2005. The overall objectives of this project focus on compliance with local and international legal frameworks, fostering effective cooperation among NGOs and government agencies and overcoming ethnic and religious prejudices. With these goals in mind, UNAG actively supports the development of a durable solution to the Chechen refugee problem in Georgia, with the help and cooperation of the Georgian government, the country’s NGO sector and international institutions.
UNAG promotes discussions among local communities, government representatives, refugees and international institutions regarding the possibility of integrating these refugees into Georgia through: the provision of information sessions, roundtables for residents of communities near the Pankisi Gorge and the refugees who have settled in the Pankisi Gorge themselves; the undertaking of a commitment to perform a legal assessment of all available policy options for integration; and informing both the refugees and the local population about their options under the laws and responsibilities of various Georgian ministries and international organizations.
Our organization strives to succeed in overseeing the proper formulation of a policy by the Georgian government and adapting this policy’s format towards solving the problems inherent in other policy issues that affect refugees and IDPs. We feel that the best indication of success for our efforts would be an outcome wherein the Georgian public in general becomes more tolerant in their attitudes towards ethnic minorities.