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A man cut himself inside Gori’s Municipal Office on 22 December in an apparent suicide attempt during a protest by internally displaced persons (IDPs) demanding adequate housing. Vitali Gamkhuashvili, a resident of the village of Sveneti in Gori Municipality, cut himself after his application for public housing was declined by local authorities, RFE/RL’s Georgian Service reports.
Gamkhuashvili’s wife, an IDP from Abkhazia, says their living conditions are very poor, and the house they currently live in has nearly collapsed.
‘It rains inside just as much as it rains outside. We don’t have any wood or anything else to get warm. My children are left in the cold’, Shorena Gelashvili told RFE/RL, claiming her family suffers serious health problems.
She said her family was removed from a list of people to be granted housing after authorities discovered the property they possess. But their house if unfit for living, she says.
Deputy Minister of Refugees Grigol Giorgadze told journalists houses will be granted only to those who don’t have alternative housing.
He also said the Gamkhurashvili is not an IDP, but his wife is and the family live in her house.
‘They live at their ancestral house. Had we granted a house to them, somebody could legitimately protest that we granted a house to a non IDP who already has a house.’
Others IDPs also joined the protest in Gori, and Giorgadze said the authorities will meet each of them individually and re-evaluate whether the decision not to provide them with housing could have been a mistake.
‘A lot of decisions have been changed in our practice and this is why we decided to individually meet them’, said Giorgadze.
The Ministry of Refugees spent ₾14 million ($5.5 million) on 707 houses for IDPs in 2016, according to a report from the ministry. Five buildings were also repaired, providing flats to 332 families, while 121 were renovated, the report says.
According to the ministry, there are 273,000 IDPs in Georgia.