Refugee Issues - General Information
As per the “Law of Georgia on Refugeesand humanitarian statuses”, "the Refugee is a person without Georgian citizenship who entered the territory of Georgia and to whom Georgia is not the country of origin and who was forced to leave his/her country of citizenship or permanent residence owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country."
From the beginning of 2012 the new law on “Refugees and humanitarian statuses” came into force. New term “Humanitarian Status” is introduced in the law as a complementary protection. The status is granted to a person who doesn’t meet the requirements needed for granting a refugee status according to the Convention nevertheless he is not able to return to the place of his/her permanent residence. New status is determined as follows: Humanitarian status shall be granted to a person who is not a citizen of Georgia or to a stateless person permanently residing in Georgia, not meeting criteria of article 2 of the present Law and: Who has been compelled to leave his/her country of origin due to generalized violence, foreign aggression, occupation, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights, or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.
There are two methods of deciding on refugee status - individual and “prima facie”. Within an individual approach to refugee status determination, upon registration, the applicant is recognized as a status seeker. The Department of Migration, Repatriation and Refugee Issues at the Georgian Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation studies the facts of the case. The fact-finding involves an interview and completion of the questionnaire. It could last up to six month. During this period, the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation of Georgia in cooperation with the international organizations, namely, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provides applicants with the shelter at the temporary settlement centre. It is noteworthy that the decision on granting the political asylum status is made by the President of Georgia. In such a case, the Administration of the President forwards application to the Department of Migration, Repatriation and Refugee Issues of the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation of Georgia for the investigation. The department proceeds with the individual method and submits the conclusion to the Administration of the President. Based on the conclusion, the President of Georgia makes final decision. According to January 2009 data, there are 992 refugees is Georgia. The refugees appeared in Georgia from 1994 to 1999 in small numbers. However, the 1999 war in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation was followed by the mass refugee flight to Georgia. In such situation, the need to provide assistance was extremely urgent and it became impossible for purely practical reasons to carry out an individual determination of refugee status. The State, therefore, addressed the so-called “group determination” of refugee status, whereby each member of the group was regarded prima facie as a refugee. In 1999 Georgia granted status of ”prima facie refugee” to some 7000 people. They settled in Pankisi Gorge close to their ethnic relatives – Kist people. UNHCR has been helping refugees in Georgia since 1999, providing them with the social and economic support. Till 2007, the UN agency was mainly delivering the food. Later, the cash aid substituted for the food assistance. In 2007 the refugees in Georgia received temporary residence permits. Based on the permits, the refugees were given 14 Gel monthly refugee allowance from the State Budget. The amount was doubled in April 2008. Starting from March 1, 2014 the monthly allowance for Refugees and Humanitarian status holders is considered to be 45 GEL.