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IDPs Demand Better Living Conditions

November 27, 2006

shadrevani1.gifNearly 2,600 IDPs live in so-called Faifuri District in the suburbs of Zugdidi. Twenty families from Abkhazia live in one of the block of flats there. Seven or eight members of several families live in one room. The building has not repaired since the eighties of the last century. The roof must be changed. The rain is leaking in the house.

On November 23, local government was celebrating third anniversary of the 'Rose Revolution' in the Zugdidi Dramatic Theatre while protest demonstration was being held in the Faifuri district. The participants of the action were those people who live in the damaged house. Most of them were children and juveniles, because 'if men take part in the demonstration, they will certainly be detained. We have already held the demonstration before and police warned us they would arrest us we dared again,' said one of the participants, Venera Fonia.  [We should point out that, at that time Merab Gergaia was the chief of the regional police].

Concerning the November 23 demonstration, IDPs demanded the following:

1. To repair the roof of their house immediately.
2. If they do not repair the roof, the government should find new accommodations for them.
3. In the case, their demands are not satisfied the IDPs threaten to burn the office of the Gali District Administrative Board in Rustaveli Street in Zugdidi.

IDP Marina Shonia, who has four little children, said, "We live in the rain and snow. We have applied to the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation several times in vain. We categorically demand the Minister's arrival here, which does not care where we live at all. It is a shame that we do not have appropriate living conditions for the twenty-first century."

Another mother of many children was stricter in her statement. "They give us fourteen lari like beggars. We have no house and the place we are lodged in is a barn. The rain is leaking and we continuously carry bowls to and fro when it rains. Neither ministry nor local government paid attention to us; as for the Gali District Administrative Board they are sleeping. If my children are cold, hungry and do not have books to learn, why should I live here? I will go to Abkhazia and become an Abkhaz citizen. Will the Abkhaz kill me? They will not do me more harm there than I have here." This woman did not tell us her name. Moreover, she blamed journalists for being biased and hiding facts.

 The demonstration lasted one hour; however, nobody met them from the government.

Nugzar Gardava, head of the refugee department within the Zugdidi Administrative Board, commented on the fact. "Red Cross International Committee was about to repair the roof of the building but since it included the list of privatized buildings, they did not implement repair works. We have not foreseen the expenses for repairing the building in our budget. By the way, reconstruction will require a lot of money. If the building is not sold, we might think about the problem."

N. Gardava does not know what they will offer to IDPs if the building is sold. Nobody from the Gali District Administrative Board wanted to issue comments. However, they said in private talks that the IDPs' demands are fair.

Representatives of the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation did not meet the demonstrators on November 23 and 24.

Nato Berulava, Zugdidi