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European Parliamentarians visit Gori

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Nine European parliamentarians in a fact-finding mission visited Georgia on September 19-20 to assess the state of IDPs, evaluate the health infrastructure needs of the country and conduct research about the reproductive health (RH) among the IDPs, particularly with a focus on RH services in the aftermath of the recent armed conflict in Georgia. The members of the delegation include parliamentarians from Belgium, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden.

The mission was organized by the invitation of Vice Chairperson of the Georgian Parliament, Gigi Tsereteli, a member of the Executive Committee of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF), in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the EPF. The trip to Gori was accompanied by Magdalina Anikashvili, a member of Parliament and the Christian-Democrats Party, Otar Toidze, also an MP and the head of the Health and Social Issues of the Georgian Parliament, and Besik Tserediani, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Refugees and Internally Displaced People.

The mission visited IDP Camp City in Gori, where approximately 2,300 refugees from the regions of Gori and Tskhinvali live. The UNFPA has provided the refugees aged 15-25 with the special youth kits. The packages included towels, vitamins, toothbrushes, shampoos and other hygiene supplies.

The delegation members arranged a short meeting with the United Nations Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) local representative  emergency coordinator, Alessandra Morelli, in one of the camps of the Camp City.  “I can say frankly that the humanitarian situation is getting better. It isn’t a five star situation, but in two weeks we did our best to provide the refugees with their emergency needs,” said Morelli to the European parliamentarians. The delegation showed big interest in the reproductive health issues, which haven't yet been resolved.

“Reproductive health couldn’t be the issue of first priority here, we needed these two weeks to provide emergency needs. By the way, the camp still has a shortage of food, clothing and books for the children. We have to solve this first,” said Gigi Tsereteli, MP.

Another item in which the refugees are really in need of is warm camps, as the weather is getting colder. The mission members were interested in their future placement.

“We plan to close the camps by about October 15. We will place them in alternative buildings and houses,” said Besik Tserediani, Deputy Minister of Refugees.

The delegation’s next stop was Gori Sukhishvili University, where, with the support of the UNFPA, a reproductive health consulting-room was opened. The center will provide local 15-24 year-olds and all refugees with free medical examinations.

Later the mission met with representatives of the local government, schools and NGOs in the local city council. The parliamentarians listened to the problems of the local representatives and promised to put them in the report they will make for their governments and organizations.

At the end of the trip, the guests visited the buildings that were bombed during the Russian-Georgian conflict.

“I’m impressed at the speed of reconstruction in the region. The situation in the camps are positive. They face big problems connected with weather, and those still need to be resolved,” said Jean Lambert, London’s Green Party Member of the European Parliament.
 
“I’ll write a report to my Parliament about the situation I’ve seen here in Georgia. The country still needs help. Probably it’ll take a long time for Georgia to enter the EU, but before we should work to have close relationships with this country, more contact and more help,” declared Carina Hagg, a member of the Swedish Parliament, following the trip.

22 September Mon 2008, 18:48:44

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