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The UN Secretary General Says Georgian IDPs should Return

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, June 22
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says in his report released on the World Refugee Day on Thursday that it is the right of the Georgian Internally Displaced population from the country’s Russian-occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia regions, to return to their homes.

Guterres states that the peaceful return issues cannot be linked to political issues or the conclusion of peace agreements.

“It must be addressed irrespective of any solution to the underlying conflict. At the same time, it is primarily for the individual to assess the risks and make an informed choice as to whether or not to return at a given time. In doing so, a displaced person must be able to take into account all factors that could affect his or her safety, dignity and ability to exercise basic human rights,” he says.

The report reads that that over the past nine and a half years, the Geneva international discussions, which was created in the wake of the Russia-Georgia 2008 war to address Georgian conflict issues, have remained as a unique platform for Georgia and for participants to discuss security and stability and humanitarian issues, including in relation to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.

“Despite the difficult nature of the discussions, the complexity of the issues and the divergence of the various positions of the participants, all relevant stakeholders have continued to express their appreciation for the contributions of the Geneva international discussions and the Joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms in Gali and Ergneti and the humanitarian engagement by a variety of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and other actors to the improvement of the overall security and humanitarian situation on the ground,” the report reads.

Guterres says that regrettably, several key security, humanitarian, human rights and development challenges remain unresolved, including in relation to the creation of conditions conducive to the return of displaced populations in Georgia.

“I remain concerned by the negative trends related to so-called borderization, restrictions on the freedom of movement and other unilateral actions, including those that inhibit the possible return of internally displaced persons, as well as the ability of humanitarian and developmental actors to operate freely, especially in South Ossetia”, he stated.

Guterres called on all participants of the Geneva international discussions and all relevant stakeholders to demonstrate greater political will and to undertake practical and constructive efforts to help revitalise this important process.

The War in Abkhazia from 1992 to 1993 was fought between Georgian government forces for the most part, and Abkhaz separatist forces, Russian armed forces and North Caucasian militants. The separatists received support from thousands of North Caucasus and Cossack militants and from the Russian forces stationed in and near Abkhazia.

Between 13,000 to 20,000 ethnic Georgians and approximately 3,000 Abkhazians have been reported killed, more than 250,000 Georgians became internally displaced or refugees and about 2,000 are considered missing.

Among the missing about 1,500 are ethnic Georgians, up to 200 are ethnic Abkhazians and about 100 are ethnic Ossetians.

101 bodies have been identified and transported to Georgia over the course of last years.

The Russia-Georgia 2008 War was a war between Georgia, Russia and the Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The war displaced 192,000 people and while many returned to their homes after the war, 20,272 people, mostly ethnic Georgians, remained displaced.

35 Georgians and 6 Ossetians remain missing since the war.