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Frustrated IDPs From Abkhazia Living in Telavi Threaten to Walk to Sokhumi

July 3, 2006

         Frustrated IDPs From Abkhazia Living in Telavi Threaten to Walk to Sokhumi

IDPs from Abkhazia, living in Telavi, protest against the irresponsible attitude of the Georgian government. They plan to hold ongoing protests and are on the verge of rejecting Georgian citizenship. According to the IDPs, the Minister of Refuges and Accommodation, Kheviashvili, has not shown the slightest interest in their problems.

“The new Minister has not met with us yet and has not asked about the conditions we are living in. We shall walk to Sokhumi and if we do not reach it, we shall die on the way there. We’d be better off dead than to go on living in such conditions…” declare the IDPs living in Telavi.
The IDPs’ protest was caused by the fact that they have not received their monthly allowance of 11GEL this month. “The Government has forgotten us for eight years. We receive an allowance of only 11GEL and they do not even give us that now...” declares one IDP from Abkhazia, Darejan Panchvidze.

According to the IDPs, they are not given their allowances simply because there are no IDP lists at the People’s Bank. The Local Government tries to excuse itself by saying that IDP problems are not within their power to solve and this issue must be solved by the Ministry of Refuges and Accommodation.

“11 GEL is not enough to buy the children bread and even if we did not eat ourselves, our children would still go hungry. We are told that the money has been deposited with the bank but they cannot issue money to us as there are no lists there. Everybody accuses everybody else, but somebody surely has to solve this problem?” declares IDP  D. Panchividze.

The IDPs from Abkhazia living in Telavi believe that Minister Kheviashvili is not fulfilling his duties. “We have submitted an announcement to the Ministry twice, but nobody pays attention to us...” states Nanuli Mitagvaria. Mitagvaria also accuses the Minister of being more interested in Chechen refugee problems, celebrating the International Day of Refuges with them in Pankisi. “Kheviashvili went to Pankisi and visited Chechen refugees and he also celebrated the Day of Refugees there. He could have come to us and asked us what conditions we are living in, we are refugees too...” declares N. Mitagvaria.

The IDPs living in Telavi recall the war in Abkhazia and reminisce that it was the Abkhazian Authority that aided them during that time, not the Georgian Government. “We were given food by the Abkhazian HQ and they used to promise us that they would help us in any way - but yet we left. We could not imagine that our own government would doom us so much...”declares IDP from Abkhazia G.Karaia.

The head of the People’s Bank Telavi Branch, Giorgi Kochloshvili, acknowledges the fact that funds have been deposited, though he will not inform the IDPs of the total amount until the lists are finalized. “The money is deposited with the bank, but it has not been issued yet, as we have no lists on which we can base the issuing of this money...”explained Kochloshvili.

According to Levan Akhalauri, the Head of Social Aid Department of the Telavi Administrative Board, “The Board expresses its good will and provides for the transportation of the lists from the Ministry of Refuges and Accommodation”, however nobody has yet named a date for this to happen.

The Abkhazian IDPs living in Telavi live on the ‘good will’ of the Telavi Administrative Board and wait for their problem to be solved. If the problem is not solved in time, they will hold ongoing protests and finally make the long walk to Abkhazia.

                                                               Veriko Kobiashvili, Telavi