Project on Refugee Integration


An increase in the number of refugees has become more and more widely recognized as a pressing issue for the Georgian society to deal with over recent years. The frantic pace of life has not been enough to deter the UNA or a slew of other organizations and individuals from working to solve this crisis. The issue forces one to give pause and reflect on the nearly 2,500 refugees residing in Georgia at present and the estimated 19 million refugees worldwide. These are the people who have fled from their homeland – often leaving everything behind – and left their friends and family behind and who are now seeking durable solutions.</p> <p>There are three accepted durable methods of solutions – Integration, Resettlement, and Repatriation. The one solution that is most often cited when talking about the Chechen refuges in Georgia is ‘Integration.’ UNA Georgia, together with its partner organizations, has initiated many activities that stand to form the groundwork for integrating these refugees into Georgian society. These initiatives were primarily established within the framework of the Refugee Council of Georgia - a UNHCR funded project.</p> <p>An additionally global initiative concerning the integration of refugees from Chechnya is also being carried out by UNA Georgia in cooperation with the National Endowment for Democracy. The refugees from Chechnya in Georgia are mostly settled in the Pankisi Gorge and have been the neighbors of the local population there for more than six years. During this time these refugees have continually competed for the meager social services available to them and this has led to the creation of a tense situation between the various communities living in the Pankisi Gorge. UNA Georgia responded to this persisting problem by introducing a project that applies the durable method of solution of integrating these refugees directly into Georgian society. The overall objectives of this project focus on issues of compliance with local and international legal frameworks, fostering effective cooperation with NGOs and government agencies and overcoming ethnic and religious prejudices. A prerequisite for the success of this initiative is the involvement of the Georgian government, the NGO sector in the country and other international institutions.</p> <p>Recently UNA Georgia has provided several information meetings which promote discussions among local communities, government representatives, refugees and international institutions. During these meetings numerous relevant themes have been explored and many concerns have been articulated by the refugees - most of who appeared skeptical of ongoing governmental initiatives and voiced their disappointment with many of these initiatives.</p> <p>The project partners feel that the best indication of success for their efforts in this regard would be an outcome wherein the Georgian public in general becomes more receptive and tolerant in their attitudes towards ethnic minorities.