Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Tbilisi: Home from Home

Refugees from past wars navigate path between adapting to life where they are, and their hopes of returning home one day.
By IWPR Georgia

Two decades after conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia forced large numbers of civilians from their homes, there is little immediate prospect of them returning.

Many of these internally displaced persons or IDPs live in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, and others scattered around the country. Some found it easy to adapt to new surroundings, others less so. Many had children who have grown to adulthood in the intervening time.

The Georgian government has funded programmes to provide IDPs with travel and educational scholarships, healthcare and housing, but not everyone has confidence in them. Accommodation remains a prime need, and many IDP families are still crammed into single rooms originally intended to serve as temporary housing.

This film provides a snapshot of the attitudes, hopes and concerns of some IDPs, especially those in the second generation.

University student Tako Tolordava says she benefited from having parents who focused on educating their children above all else.

“Among my friends, I don’t feel like I’m a refugee,” she says in the film. “I prefer to achieve everything in life by myself. Simply as Tako, and not as ‘Tako the refugee from Sukhumi’.”

Nino Zoidze, who lives with her elderly sick mother and two-year-old son in a single room on the outskirts of Tbilisi, remains optimistic despite the odds.

“I hope we’ll be able to return, and do so peacefully and in a good way. I believe that we, the younger generation, will be able to achieve some progress through dialogue,” she says.

This documentary film was made as part of IWPR’s Building Bridges/Building Capacity project, supported by the Norwegian foreign ministry.