Abkhazia opens border for retirees to receive Georgian pensions
Now three times a week (on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday), Gali pensioners can freely cross the border in both directions.
This measure was taken by the Abkhaz authorities so that Georgian pensioners permanently residing in Abkhazia could receive pensions and various kinds of social benefits.
This can only be done on Georgian territory.
Since March 14, due to restrictive measures related to the pandemic, the Abkhaz authorities have closed the border with Georgia for the movement of citizens.
An exception was made only for persons in need of emergency medical care.
It is for this group of citizens that official Sukhum several times announced humanitarian ‘windows’ (from three to five days), during which residents of Abkhazia, who were being treated in Georgian clinics, could return home.
Now the exception has been extended to pensioners. The transportation of people across the Georgian-Abkhaz border is being carried out under the auspices of the UNHCR.
View from Tbilisi: new authorities of Abkhazia take care of residents of Gali
Lists of pensioners wishing to cross the border are drawn up in advance by representatives of local authorities, a resident of the Gali district of Abkhazia explained to the Georgian service of RFE/RL.
In addition, pensioners have the right only to cross the Inguri bridge, at the other end of which a mobile office of the Georgian Liberty Bank, issuing pensions, is waiting for them. The Abkhaz authorities do not allow pensioners to move further into the Georgian territory.
“It is good that during the pandemic, the Abkhaz authorities pay attention to Gali, ethnic Georgians, think of them when there is panic and uncertainty throughout Abkhazia (because of the pandemic). [Which is something] the South Ossetian authorities are not doing,” Paata Zakareishvili, a Georgian conflict expert and former state minister for reconciliation and civil equality, commented in an interview with JAMnews on the decision of the Abkhaz authorities.
Zakareishvili says this is not the first step of the new Abkhaz authorities to alleviate the situation of residents of the border Gali – earlier they canceled the unfair land tax for local residents and allowed them to freely export their hazelnut crop.
“I think they will continue this policy further,” Zakareishvili said.
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