Hundreds in Tbilisi left on street after demolition of 'illegally built houses'
‘Illegally built homes’ were demolished earlier today in Tbilisi, with several hundred people claiming to have been left on the street.
On December 15, Tbilisi began to dismantle several illegally built buildings in the Samgori region in a settlement colloquially known as ‘Africa’.
Several dozen people who were evicted onto the street blocked the street with tires and declared an ongoing protest. In clashes with the police, a pregnant woman was injured and several people were arrested.
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“There are many poor people who have nowhere to go. I am one of them and I have cancer. Give us a chance to live,” one of those protesting in the street told reporters.
The confrontation between local residents and the police began with the arrival at the scene of the mayor’s office with workers and bulldozers. The patrol police cordoned off the place of work.
An official investigation found that 12 buildings were built without a permit on a state-owned land plot, the municipal inspectorate said in a statement.
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said that there is a deliberate seizure of land, illegal construction in order to make claims for legalization years later. “I do not exclude that certain groups may be behind this,” Kaladze said.
The mayor’s office says that the people affected have other homes, and that those unable to go elsewhere can make use of municipal shelters.
The Open Society Georgia Foundation (Soros Foundation) made a counter statement in defense of the residents.
The foundation calls on the mayor’s office to stop the demolition of the buildings and help these people put a roof over their heads.
“The situation is especially difficult against the backdrop of the pandemic. People are encouraged to stay at home at a time when thousands are homeless,” the statement said.