Eco-Migrants Left Homeless
23 May, 2013
Eco-Migrants Left Homeless
Hundreds of eco-migrants from Georgia’s Ajara Autonomous Republic, who resettled in the south-east Georgia 13 years ago, are left homeless and neglected by the state.
Since last spring, 700 Greek families returned to their homes that are temporarily occupied by eco-migrants; therefore, the same number of resettled families were evicted and left homeless without any state support
and aid, the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), informed Georgian Journal. Situation reached its pitch in Tsalka municipality villages a week ago when a mother of three was transported to an intensive care unit after suffering injuries during an eviction on May 14, 2013 in Avranlo. Local authorities tried to ascribe the tension to the ethnical hostility but the evicted people swear they have pretensions with the state not with Greeks who actually helped them enormously as allowed living in their houses for 13 years while the state failed to take care of them.
According to Rezo Getiashvili, a project coordinator at CENN, the central authority is fully responsible to take care of eco-migrants inasmuch as eco-migration is not a temporary problem for Georgia but something long-lasting due to mountainous landscape of Georgia full of landslide risky zones aggravated by climate change prospects. More than 9 thousand families or 40 thousand people have already left their residential places in Ajara and about 11 thousand families or roughly 55 thousand are bound to leave in near future and the central authorities had to work out a detailed strategy and legislation to handle with the issue properly long ago but it simply neglected the issue. In 90s the resettled people were sent to south-east lowlands of Georgia including Tsalka district densely populated by Greeks who after collapse of the soviet regime repatriated to Greece. The eco-migrants occupied the empty houses under the state pledge that authorities would buy houses off their legal owners ultimately. The state really bought some houses initially and forgot the promise leaving eco-migrants on the mercy of legal owners who took compassion and allowed eco-migrants to live in their houses for certain rent [some even free of charge]. However as the economic crisis aggravated in Greece the situation changed radically as Greek owners came back in spring of 2012 and requested the ecomigrants to immediately vacate the houses or pay. The payment varies within approximately EUR-5-15 thousand that is completely unaffordable to the eco-migrants. They asked Georgian authorities to fulfill its obligations but to no avail. Despite the fact that over the last year, the central and local governments have been constantly supplied with information on the threat of eviction, no response measures have been enacted.
Accordingly on May 13, 2013, 16 minibuses of evicted families went to Ajara to appeal the autonomous government to resettle them in Ajara again and remained in front of the governmental building for three days. Officials of Ajara local authorities as well as Vice-Speaker of Georgian Parliament Murman Dumbadze met eco-migrants and promised to raise the issue against Georgian parliament and government. A special commission charged to research the eco-migrants problems in Tsalka was set up and works undertaken to create legal regulations on the status of eco-migrants. But the key issue where the evicted people can find a shelter is still open.

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