Three internally displaced people (IDPs) from the city of Zugdidi in western Georgia have attempted to cross into Abkhazia to ask for asylum. The move was in protest at what they say is negligence from the Georgian government.
The group was planning to cross the Enguri (Ingur) Bridge accompanied by a child and apply to the Abkhazian Government for asylum on 28 September, but were stopped by police, RFE/RL’s Georgian service reports.
The three say the former regional hospital building they’ve been living in since fleeing Abkhazia in the early 1990s is deteriorating. They have held demonstrations demanding new housing numerous times. The attempted crossing was triggered by the partial collapse of the building’s ceiling.
‘I have been living at this address for 24 years now. We have a very bad living conditions. They don’t pay any attention to us, thus we have left our IDP documents behind’, one of the protesters, Nani Shonia said as she made her way towards the bridge.
Another of the group, Tariel Kobalia, said he would ‘rather be killed by an Abkhazian bullet than by the bricks of the regional hospital’.
Manuchar Chilachava head of the Ministry of IDPs’ Adjara and Samegrelo–Zemo Svaneti body told RFE/RL that the living conditions of IDPs will be taken into account while distributing houses. He says some IDPs living in the neighbourhood were already provided with houses in March 2017, and two more buildings will be built in December.
The IDPs have promised to renew their protest if their demands are not met.
For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.