Poor Living Conditions Force People from Conflict Zone
Gela Mtivlishvili from Shida Kartli
The inhabitants of Zemo Nikozi, Kvemo Nikozi, Kvemo Khviti and Ergneti villages, Gori District are asking for help as nobody can provide security guarantees for the locals. The inhabitants of these villages also say that they have neither food, heating nor drinking water. The population is also demanded to have to pay for electricity bill for the months that they did not live in the villages at all (during the August war and afterwards).
Despite the governmental promise the people whose houses were burned and destroyed during the war have not received compensation; they have been forced to live in their relative homes. The Gori District Municipality gave each family 3 meters of cellophane to cover their window frames and roofs. Tens of families were forced to move to their relatives’ houses as it was impossible to live in their own destroyed houses. The windows do not have windows and the roofs are shot- up with bullet holes. Ossetians occupy the houses in Zemo Nikozi village which is situated just 400 meters away from Tskhinvali.
The majority of the inhabitants of Zemo Nikozi, Kvemo Nikozi, Kvemo Khviti and Ergneti left the villages on August 8-9, 2008 and were only a able to return on October 10, 2008. The Russian soldiers and Ossetian militias had been raiding the villages in Tskhivali vicinity for a period of 2 months. Zamira Lomsadze, the inhabitant of Zemo Nikozi had been in the village during the whole conflict and did not leave even when a bomb exploded in her yard. She said that Ossetians looted the houses in her village after the cease fire.
“We had been hiding in a converted cellar with nuns before the ceasefire was agreed to. We heard how the convent was being shot at and the houses were burnt. However, we could not leave the cellar. We left the cellar only when the intensive shooting ended.
The houses had already been looted. However, most of the houses were robbed in during the period of the cease fire. They took everything we had: flour, food, jewellery, equipment, clothes, linens and even mattresses. The houses that were locked were broken and raided. One part of cattle and poultry were killed and eaten in the village and another part was taken off; they left nothing to us,” said Zamira Lomsadze.
More than 20 houses are completely burned and the rest are damaged in Zemo Nikozi village. Windows are wrecked and the roofs are shot full of hole and damaged from mortar rounds. The Gori District Municipality allocated 3 meters of cellophane, one warm blanket and one warm military coat per family. The villagers say that they receive food only from the international organizations. They say only 30 families receive this humanitarian aid in Zemo Nikozi. This is when more than 300 families live in this village.
“We were forced to return to the village on October 10. The government promised us to provide any possible help. However, no one from Gori District Governor’s Office, Shida Kartli Regional Governor’s Office and the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation came to us and helped. No one protects us. The correspondents of TV-companies visit our village only occasionally and they do not speak about our grave living conditions in their news pieces.
The only governmental institution that functions in our village is school and only several people are employed there. Before the war our main income was selling cattle and agricultural products. We have no cattle now. Our orchards are close to Tskhinvali and therefore we can not dare to go there. The moment Ossetians notice us they will open fire at us. Besides, the village and its surroundings have not been de-mined up to now. Those who have relatives in Tbilisi or other parts of Georgia provide us with provisions, says Vano Dzamukashvili.
Several days ago electricity was cut off in Zemo Nikozi, Kvemo Nikozi, Kvemo Khviti (Gori District) villages and in more than 30 villages of the conflict zone on the allegation that the inhabitants of these villages have not paid their electricity bill for August, September and October.
“When we returned the power pills and electric lines were all destroyed. There was no electricity in the village. We renewed all the facilities ourselves. The repair works were over on October 20 and electricity was on only at that time. Even though there was no one from the villagers in the conflict zone from August 10 till October 20, the local power distribution company insists that we paid electricity bill for those months we were absent. We contacted the local government and asked to help to solve the situation. However, the Shida Kartli Regional Government representatives told us that power distribution company Energo Pro Georgia was a private company and that they had no right to interfere in their activities.
Finally, after the people revolted, the government had promised to pay for the electricity for August and September. We were told we had to pay the October bill ourselves. If not, the distribution company would turn off the electricity. To make a long story short, no one pays any attention to us,” says Giorgi Mchedlidze.
He claims the people applied to the Shida Kartli Regional administration numerous times to solve this and other pressing problems. They even blocked the highway. However, their all attempts to attract the government’s attention were in vain.
“Lade Vardzelashvili, Shida Kartli Regional Governor and other officials become so irritated when they see us that they start shouting and say, have they not been satisfied with what we have given you so thus far? It is easy for them to say as they are living in perfect conditions. I am sure they will not be able to stay without drinking water, food, electricity and heating even for one day,” say the villagers.
Lado Vardzelashvili denies all the accusations of the population. “The government provides any possible assistance to those people who incurred loses due to the war. The four months of unpaid electricity usage (July, August, September and October) amounts to 497,030 GEL. Due to the fact that there was armed conflict in August, the state takes responsibility of covering the months of August and September, which equates to 154,631 GEL for those 38 villages. As for July and October (when there was no war in Georgia), the population had been informed that the state would not pay for those two months,” explained Lado Vardzelashvili.
Officially, there used to be 160 pupils in Zemo Nikozi village school. Now only 50 are left to attend school. The locals say that tens of families have left their homes and moved to other places due to unbearable living conditions. Consequently, Ossetians from Tskhinvali are now occupying the empty houses.
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