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From Syria to Abkhazia. With a hope?23.03.2012 | 19:01
In the near future Abkhazia begins the process of repatriation its Diaspora from Syria. We cannot say that the descendants of ethnic Abkhazians are fleeing the country, covered the civil war, but there are more and more of those wanting to move to the land of their ancestors. We have tried to find out whether the historic homeland is ready to accept them.
In Abkhazia, there is a special structure with the status of the ministry, which deals with issues related to the repatriation of compatriots. Recently, it was noisy and crowded here. Officials of this Committee shall decide how to place a group of 42 citizens of Syria, which very soon will arrive in the country. And these people come not on time, but forever. Ten families of descendants of Abkhazian Muhajirs, who fled their homeland in the second half of XIX century, took a firm decision to leave Syria and live in Abkhazia. They have already obtained a visa and the necessary documents. They arrive soon.
Abkhaz authorities are engaged in projects for repatriation of compatriots for almost all post-war years, but no one in Abkhazia can say this work was successful. Today's results - about two thousand people living permanently in the country, mostly Turkish Abkhazians. State Committee for Repatriation accumulates a considerable budget. Everyone who works in the country pays into the fund for the repatriation two percent of his salary. The return of compatriots to the homeland is considered a strategic task, and money is not spared. You can see the results of the committee - there are new and refurbished homes, there are many people who have received substantial support from the state. But criticism of officials is much greater. The state provides assistance not to everyone and not always, apartments in new houses arer without finishing, and the former Committee management has been accused of corruption.
Thus, in fact adaptation of people who have moved to Abkhazia from the Middle East is pretty slow. Not all stands: there are those who returned back.
The Kelasur district is southern edge of the Abkhaz capital. There is a popular city beach. A couple of years ago, there was built a campsite right at the edge of the sea with a beautiful and well-arranged cottages for tourists. This is where the ten families from Syria will spend next four months. At the campsite there are necessary conditions for life, but it's still tourist facility. It's rather difficult to sleep to the sound of the sea, in addition, it's very wet there. But the Committee for the repatriation hopes the people won't have to live there longer than four months. Authorities are rapidly building and repairing housing, where the repatriates will live. Meantime, immigrants will study Abkhaz language. Teachers from the staff of the Committee for repatriation will give them a lesson "at home".
It's used to build housing for immigrants not in the very Sukhum, but in the suburbs. We went to the suburban village of Machar, where nine cottages for a portion of immigrants from Syria will be built.
In the state Committee for the repatriation we were told that one house was already built, second was under construction. But at the site, we found that while there are only two foundations. There is a lot of work: we had to move through mud and marshland. But the activity is in full swing. The machinery works, a foreman shows us a layout of a two-story cottage, more like a beautiful minihotel. Two residential buildings will be erected here. We do not believe, but we hope that the plans will come true.
If all plans come true, the Syrian immigrants will be the happiest people in Abkhazia. They will have their home and job. Maybe they will even learn the Abkhazian language. But will they be taken by the residents? Indeed, many in Machar cannot afford renovation and live exclusively on subsistence farming.