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IDPs are returning home

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, October 10
IDPs from the Gori and Kareli regions are returning to their homes as Russian troops pull out from the villages of the “buffer zones.” 15 busloads of IPDs left from the centre of Gori on Thursday, and in the next few days about 40,000 people displaced by the Russian-Georgian conflict will go back to their homes, Georgian MP Koba Subeliani said.

Some villages in Gori and Kareli were damaged during the August military actions. Many houses were looted or burnt down. The Georgian Government has promised to quickly repair them. Officials say the IDPs will spend the winter in their own homes.

According to Subeliani money from the reserve fund, and United Nations aid will be allocated for repairing at least one room in every damaged house. “We will shortly reconstruct the houses, but the most important thing right now is that the Georgian police are controlling the zones and the situation is calm there,” Subeliani told journalists.

As the Georgian population returns, sappers have begun minesweeping operations in the villages vacated by Russian troops. This work will last for three days, officials say. Earlier on Thursday the Georgian Government warned the population to avoid returning to some areas previously occupied by Russian troops until the minesweeping works were over. One man died and two were injured in an explosion in the village of Sakasheti in Gori region on October 9, and according to Georgian media reports Russian troops had been moving around the area frequently.

Subeliani noted that at this stage IDPs cannot go back to the villages of Didi and Patara Liakhvi, as Russians have not pulled out from that area so far. Subeliani said 16,000 IPDs will remain in temporary shelters until the complete pullout of Russian troops. The gradual return of the Georgian population to their homes will last a week, Koba Subeliani said.

The Russians started withdrawing from the so-called “buffer zones” last week, and the greater part of the occupying forces left undisputed Georgian territory by Wednesday. However, Russian checkpoints still remain in the Akhalgori region and Kodori Gorge. According to the ceasefire agreement Russia must remove all checkpoints outside breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia by October 10.