16 July 2024,   06:05
Akhalgori humanitarian crisis - NGOs address international community

18 Georgian NGOs addressed EU, UN, OSCE top officials and heads of international organizations to increase pressure on Russia, which effectively controls Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, to make it open crossing points between its controlled Akhalgori district and the rest of Georgia, to cease arbitrary detention of people and to allow international monitoring missions “unimpeded access” to the occupied territories.

“We are writing this urgent call for action with grave concern over the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Akhalgori district of Tskhinvali Region, and in hopes that your immediate action will protect the local population from further harm.

In early September 2019, the Russian controlled de facto authorities of Tskhinvali imposed a complete ban on movement across the Mosabruni-Odzisi crossing point, a lifeline for residents of the Akhalgori district, many of whom commute daily to the rest of Georgia to receive medical care, education and social services, as well as to visit their relatives and family members.

The crossing point, which normally used to handle around 400 crossings a day, remains closed until this day, with no indication as to when the restrictions will be lifted, leaving the local population - ethnic Georgians and Ossetians alike - at peril. An estimated 1 000 individuals in the district have faced desperate humanitarian conditions, including food shortages and increased costs of commodities.

The closure of the crossing points have already led to several deaths in the district, due to the delayed medical aid.

The restriction came on top of the already deteriorated human rights situation in and around the Russian-occupied areas of Georgia – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.

Over the last few years, Gali and Akhalgori residents have seen their rights gradually curtailed, including their right to education in native language, the right to free movement and other fundamental rights. And those daring to speak against the authorities have found themselves caught in lengthy legal proceedings, as civic activist Tamar Mearakishvili in Akhalgori, who fears her open criticism of the de facto government might lead to her eventual expulsion from the region.

Arbitrary arrests and killings’ of Georgian citizens by Russian-controlled de facto authorities, citing the murders of Davit Basharuli in 2014, Giga Otkhozoria in 2016, Archil Tatunashvili in 2018 and Irakli Kvaratskhelia in 2019.
The occupation forces also illegally detained well-known Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, for “illegally crossing the border”, when the doctor was trying to cross into the occupied territory to visit a patient there”, - reads the letter.