Georgia: IDP from Abkhazia committed suicide while waiting for housing
IDP commits suicide in the Kartli sanatorium in Georgia
On January 16, a 52-year-old man jumped off the roof of the seven-story building of the former Kartli sanatorium near the Tbilisi Sea on the outskirts of the Georgian capital. Zurab Chichoshvili, an internally displaced person from Abkhazia, died on the spot.
This tragic incident was preceded by several days of protests by internally displaced persons living in the former Kartli sanatorium. The IDPs have been demanding housing, as the building of the former sanatorium, where they are currently housed, is in disrepair and unsuitable for habitation, which, according to them, is confirmed by the special examination.
IDPs and family members of the deceased claim that the man committed suicide in order to draw the attention of the authorities to the problem.
There are many witnesses to the man’s suicide – at that time protesters were gathered in the yard.
“We were standing outside and talking about what our course of action should be, and at that time this man jumped off the roof of the building. He actually became a victim of a social policy that was not intended to protect people. He said that if no attention was paid to him, he would resort to such a form and commit suicide”, Tamar Sautiyeva, resident of the former sanatorium, told InterpressNews.
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Zurab Azarashvili, Minister for Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, said that Zurab Chichoshvili’s death was not related to the problem of internally displaced persons:
“According to preliminary data, this is an accident – my request is to wait for the investigation and not to link it to the IDP problem”.
The `IDPs housed in the former sanatorium have been protesting against the unbearable conditions for years, but in the last month the protest has become more radical.
“Decent conditions for migrants!”, “We have been waiting for 30 years. “How much longer should we wait?” – With such demands, the residents of the Kartli sanatorium held a protest in front of the Ministry of Health a week ago.
“The conditions here are life-threatening, as evidenced by numerous expert reports. We demand that we be relocated immediately, but they offer alternative, unacceptable options. Therefore, we remain on the street, we cannot enter the houses and we are in the area near the building, where it is relatively safe”, the protesters say.
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The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation into the incident under Article 115 of the Criminal Code, which provides for incitement to suicide.
The former Soviet Kartli sanatorium has been inhabited by refugees from Abkhazia for almost 30 years. Approximately 120 families live there.
There are large cracks in the building, the plaster is falling off. Residents say that the last document prepared by the State Expertise is dated February 3, 2015:
“Destructive processes are underway in the soil mass, which, in the future, may lead to a mass collapse of the supporting structures of the building”, the report of the Bureau of Expertise says.
A few days ago, Deputy Minister of Health Ilia Gudushauri met with the protesters. Refugees were promised housing by the end of 2022, and before that they would be temporarily relocated to rented apartments. The protesters did not agree with this proposal and asked for guarantees that they would not be left homeless.
The settlers decided to stop the protests for several days as a sign of mourning, but, according to them, after the funeral of the deceased, the protest will resume.
As of December 2009, 273,411 internally displaced persons from the conflict zones in Abkhazia and South Ossetia were registered in Georgia, which is about 7% of the population of Georgia.