Refugees' News Expands in Georgia

  • IDP's compact settlement Tserovani. (Photo: Giorgi Kupatadze)

IWPR’s Refugees’ News radio programme is to be broadcast by five more radio stations in Georgia, enabling the country’s legions of internally displaced people, IDPs, to communicate their needs and problems to a much wider audience.

“The radio programme Refugees’ News is particularly interesting as it focuses on refugees’ problems. Georgia is a small country with hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Most of them, and particularly the communities living in the provinces, struggle to make their problems known to the government and broader society.

For the past year, the monthly radio programme, prepared by young reporters from IDP communities from two regions adjacent to the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has been broadcast by two stations, Odishi, in Zugdidi (Samegrelo region), and Trialeti, in Gori ( Shida Kartli region).

In addition to the latter, five new partner stations, members of the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters, GARB, will broadcast the show, which will now expand its coverage of IDPs to those communities living in major towns and cities in Georgia.

The new stations are Harmony, in Poti (Samegrelo region); Tetri Radio and White Radio, in Kutaisi (Imereti region); Argo+, in Zestafoni (Imereti region); and Monte Carlo, in Tbilisi.

GARB’s executive director, Natia Kuprashvili, believes that Refugees’ News fills a gap and deserves to have a wider audience.

“Regional and even Tbilisi-based radio stations often cannot afford the luxury of producing analytical programmes in line with international standards,” she said.

“The radio programme Refugees’ News is particularly interesting as it focuses on refugees’ problems. Georgia is a small country with hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Most of them, and particularly the communities living in the provinces, struggle to make their problems known to the government and broader society.

“IWPR has managed to reduce significantly the information vacuum [around IDP issues] that has persisted for years. This programme deserves to have a bigger audience, and GARB is happy to have a chance to contribute to raising the public’s awareness of refugee problems.”

Nino Gerzmava, project coordinator for Refugees’ News, said of the expansion in the number of outlets for the programme, “Until now, this radio show was broadcast in only two regions of the country, now all of Georgia will be able to hear it.

“IWPR has managed to reduce significantly the information vacuum [around IDP issues] that has persisted for years. This programme deserves to have a bigger audience, and GARB is happy to have a chance to contribute to raising the public’s awareness of refugee problems.”

“Audience growth has enabled community representatives and authorities to tackle problems faced by refugees. In addition, refugee reporters participating in the project, which have so far confined themselves to their own regions, will be introduced to other parts of Georgia.”

Ia Tugushi, a senior official in Poti, where the programme will now be broadcast, says it will enable the authorities to provide timely and appropriate responses to refugee concerns.

“It’s a pity that we have not been able to listen to Refugees’ News until now. Any bit of information about the concerns of refugees is of great value to us, and we’ll use it to help them to the best of our ability,” he said.

“Poti is on its way to becoming home to the largest refugee community in the country, as 12,000 IDPs are expected to be moved to the town from elsewhere in Georgia to live in a new settlement which is under construction. So, IWPR’s radio project is going to provide an invaluable service to local government agencies and the refugees as well.”

With the radio programme’s audience set to expand, its contributors are excited at the prospect of making a name for themselves nationwide.

“My sense of responsibility has increased tenfold, as the reports I produce will now be listened to in the capital, as well as in the regions,” IDP reporter Irina Esakia said. “IWPR has helped me hone my reporting skills, and I already enjoy a certain degree of respect as a radio journalist.”