Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Will Be Evicted in Zugdidi (Part I)
Thirty-three IDP families are awaiting June 1 in fear. They currently reside in a building of former Society for Deaf and Dumb in Griboedov Street in Zugdidi. Nowadays, these families might have to stay in the street. They have lived in the building since 1998 according to the resolution of the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation. The IDPs claim that the building was in poor conditions when they moved in and had to repair it at their own expense.
The IDPs heard about the upcoming eviction from Nikoloz Kvikviani who sent them a warning letter stating: “I, Nikoloz Kvikviani, would like to inform you that on September 1, 2006, I purchased the land and the building on Griboedov Street # 5 that belonged to the Shamo Ltd. The estate was registered in my name as the legal owner…I offer you time to leave the building and the deadline is June 1. If you do not leave the premises, I will use force as permitted under the Law adopted by the Georgian Parliament.”
Natela Kobalia is one of those who have lived in the building for almost ten years, and it is the only home she knows. She is worried about the situation but is particularly bothered by the fact that nobody has offered her any alternative accommodation to move into. “We did not move into this building illegally. They have evicted the IDPs in Tbilisi, too, though those people were compensated or given alternative accommodations. As for us, they have not offered us anything. They just demand we leave the building before June 1. There are rumors that we are going to be resettled in the village of Torsa; it is completely unacceptable for us. It is so out-of-the-way that a car cannot reach the school and people have to walk seven kilometers… If they resettle us into Torsa, it will be banishment and not resettlement the same happened when people were banished to the Siberia,” said Kobalia.
Tornike Kilanava, Gali District Coordinator from the Legitimate Abkhazian Government, said that the problem of the IDPs’ eviction is too urgent and serious. “The situation gets more serious as time passes. Those people were lodged in that building legally, the Ministry paid their electricity bills for many years, and the building was repaired several times. When the IDPs moved into that building, it was already severely damaged. A UN Organization repaired the roof, while the IDPs restored the yard and building. Their living situation should not be made worse after resettlement. Just the opposite – they should be moved to better conditions. The law should be equal for all IDPs in the various cities. These people must be given either compensation or alternative accommodation like what happened in other cities,” said Kilanava who added that the government should adopt state policy regarding the IDPs.
Lawyer Zaza Kvatsabia, a coordinator for the Human Rights Center’s Zugdidi Office, considers that the eviction of IDPs without compensation is a blatant violation of their rights: “According to the Georgian Law on IDPs, if the building where IDPs reside has a new owner, the investor is obliged to provide those people with alterative accommodations. In new place, the living conditions of the IDPs must be better than in the old one. Otherwise, it is a violation of the law and the rights of Georgian citizens, who live in s very difficult situation,” said Kvatsabia.
The IDPs applied to several governmental and non-governmental organizations. However, nothing has happened, yet. The IDPs still remain in the building of the association and expect the eviction on June 1. The poor people call upon the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation for help.
Nana Sajaia, Zugdidi
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