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“We Have Only One Way Left: We Should Stand, Lie, Creep and Beg Here” – IDPs From Abkhazia Are Still In the Street

21.10.2010

Mari Otarashvili

Tents in the street… old people in tears looking out from the tents; their faces do not show any hope. We hear cry of infants from several tents. They have made their beds in the tents so carefully as if they are not going to leave the area for a long time… they say the same. The reportage was prepared on October 19 during the ongoing protest demonstration in front of the ministry of IDPs from occupied territories, accommodation and refugees.

IDPs from Abkhazia set up those “houses in front of the ministry of IDPs from occupied territories, accommodation and refugees. They say they are not going to leave the area until the ministry of Koba Subeliani satisfies their requests.

They are those IDPs whom the ministry evicted from the hospital in Isani district and former building of the Russian military unit in Tbilisi. After eviction, part of them was resettled to Potskhoetseri in Samegrelo region, and another part was left in the street. The IDPs who could not stand life in Potskhoetseri also joined them in front of the ministry; several of them are on huger-strike.

“I am from Gagra. We lived in the former military base and they kicked us out from there. Now we live in garage in Meunargia Street in Tbilisi. We have only one solution – we should stand, lie, creep and beg here. I even started hunger-strike hoping somebody would pay attention to us but nobody has met us from the ministry though we have been here for ten days already,” said Manana Gvazava in tears.

A young woman was standing with an infant in her arms in the yard of the ministry. The little boy was about three months and he was crying of cold or something else. The rain was falling on the mother and child; however, the mother did not apparently felt the rain. A woman told her: “it is raining and take the child into the tent.”

Lika Shengelia, IDP from Ochamchire: “I spent nights in Kashueti church. The woman who sells candles there was sorry for me and gave me shelter in a little house. The house has neither door, nor window; nothing. Before that I lived in the former military base. They forced us out of the building; one of the officers of the special unit even beat my child when forcing us out. He shouted: “Leave the building quickly or I will punish you and your child. When he hit my son (who was 24 days old then and now he is three months old) I could not stand it and started shouting at him; in reply he slapped me in the face. The patrol police officer was looking at me in silence and did not do anything; they could not say anything. I have informed almost every official of the ministry but nobody reacted on it. If the seller of candles had not taken me to the shelter, I would have lived in the street. The officials of the ministry tell me they have no alternative accommodation for us and we can go anywhere we want. If they had not alternative accommodations for us, whey they threw us out in the street?! The ministry has stored my furniture in the warehouse. Luckily I am breast-feeding my child; otherwise I do not know how I could feed him.”

The chairman of the Civil Movement of IDPs Irakli Tsikolia said about 4 000 IDPs live in such unbearable conditions. “About 4 000 IDP families were evicted and left in the street. Nobody had similar right without court decision. 18 families were resettled in the accommodations in Potskhoetseri but most of them returned back; another part lives in the street. What should they do in Potskhoetseri?! How can they earn their living there?? Here they had started some job and kept their families somehow. What should they do there?! Huge sums were allocated by the international community for Georgian IDPs but nobody cares for them now because officials misappropriate those funds. The UN Resolution states that the government shall create living conditions for IDPs equal to their living conditions before displacement.”

The IDPs in the yard of the ministry sent letter with their four requests to the minister: 1. to give accommodations to those IDPs who live in the street; 2. to register the accommodations on the IDPs who live in the settlements; 3. to resettle IDPs living in unbearable conditions into better accommodations close their previous place of residence (according to Tsikolia unbearable conditions are in the shelter in Aramianiantsi hospital); 4. to restore the right of IDPs to register in the families according to their wish.

“We are citizens of Georgia and nobody has right to ban us registration. Besides that, we do not demand to start settlements immediately. Let them start the process…If we do not receive reply to our requests, we will start large-scale protest demonstrations. We will not stop and will appeal to the Strasbourg Court too,” said Tsikolia.   

Head of the administrative department of the ministry Valeri Kopaleishvili said that IDPs from Abkhazia were offered accommodations. “We offered them accommodations but they still think over it to accept or not.”
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