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Hungry Georgians attacking mayor’s office in Tbilisi

2010-09-30 19:23

Many refugees get into the category of the poor a priori, so long as, to the officials' shame, the people who left Abkhazia in 1992-1993 never got any houses. This summer, two blows were stricken at the "forcibly displaced persons" at once: street trading, which tat supplied them with means for living, was prohibited and they were ousted to the outskirts - to Samegrelo near the Georgian-Abkhaz boundary. There were no fashionable cottages in western Georgia waiting for them, such as those where the new wave of refugees was settled in winter 2008, but old neglected houses that were sometimes unfit for living.

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Naturally, no one wished to move from Tbilisi, especially that some families were offered nothing in exchange. It turned out that some of them had already got apartments under forged documents.

The government decided not to beat about the bush and resorted to using special forces.  Such inhuman treatment caused UN's indignation. Washington headquarters expressed criticism as to the process of ousting "being conducted without relevant transparency and refugees' awareness".

The Amnesty International organization's reaction was sharper: it reported 42 percent of the 246 thousand refugees still living in nursery schools, hospitals, hotels and barracks. Many of them are jobless and despised by the rest of the population.

As the report of the organization goes, there has been no state policy in Georgia in respect of these people within 15 years. The authorities hoped to bring them back to their permanent places of residence but only in 2007 Tbilisi adopted a new strategy aimed at integrating the refugees into the society. The housing plan was developed last year and implied the restoration of the neglected houses, and we have seen the outcome of its realization this summer.

Those who were forcibly "deported" from the capital should be comforted by the story of refugee Batalbi Saginadze who has recently won the proceedings against Georgian authorities in the international court. In 2004, he was ousted from his cottage that he had been occupying since 1994. Thus, the Georgian law of 1996, according to which the refugees cannot be ousted without being provided alternative dwelling, was breached. Now the Georgian authorities are to give him his cottage back and pay 15 thousand Euro.

One cannot say, though, that the government left the refugees to their fate but the measures it takes on the improvement of their state lead to aggravation of their living conditions. This fact was stressed by Vice Speaker of parliament of the opposition Paata Davitaya. He has insisted several times that all the government members should be accountable to the people's deputies at the Anti-crisis council.

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