The Refugee Day in Pankisi Valley


This year UNHCR together with its partners, including the United Nations Association of Georgia, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, organised a various events leading up to the Refugee Fair in Pankisi on the 20th of June. Starting on Monday the 18th, a group of 145 school-aged refugee children were given the opportunity to visit Tbilisi, providing them with the possibility to see, for the first time, the capital of the country they live in. From the 18th to the 20th of June, the Goethe Institute of Tbilisi offered free screening of award winning feature films about refugees, such as Hotel Rwanda, Unveiled and Zozo.</p> <p>The Refugee Fair was held in the village of Duisi, Pankisi Valley. One of the prospects of the Refugee Fair was to bring these groups closer together and thus facilitate integration and strengthen the intercultural bonds between the populations of the valley. Apart from a puppet theatre show by the local kindergarten and performance of schoolchildren for the visitors, there were sports competitions and poetry and art exhibitions. From the village kindergarten a group of children illustrated a classical fairytale, dressed up as the lambs and wolfs.</p> <p>The fair was officially opened by the UNHCR representative, Mr. Peter Nikolaus and the Minister of Refugees and Accommodation, Mr. Giorgi Kheviashvili. Mr. Kheviashvili highlighted the importance of the event and spoke about the hardships that refugees face. As a symbolic gesture, Mr. Kheviashvili proceeded to hand out the first for many temporary residents’ permits to the refugee children of the village. All refugees settled in the valley will receive these permits, which will serve as identification card and allow them to access their due governmental aid from the bank.</p> <p>While the presentations and musical performances were going on in the main stage area, local hand-crafts and paintings were exhibited all around. Traditional items such as bags, carpets, clothes and jewelry handcrafted by the refugees were sold in a community center workshop.</p> <p>The Refugee Fair demonstrated how it is possible to maintain own identity through language and customs, while integrating in another culture. In this spirit presentations throughout the day were done in Chechen and Russian as well as in Georgian languages.