19 Chechen refugees left Georgia’s Pankisi gorge on May 28 and returned back to Chechnya, Georgian Minister for Refugees and Accommodation Eter Astemirova told Civil Georgia on Monday.
Although, part of the Chechen refuges, which have been living in Pankisi gorge since 1999 already returned to Chechnya, this resent departure was the first officially registered repatriation.
Minister Eter Astemirova said that 202 more Chechen refugees, mostly elderly persons, have already expressed willingness to join this process of official repatriation.
This recent repatriation took place shortly after the delegation from Russia, which also included officials from pro-Moscow Chechen administration, visited Pankisi gorge on May 25, in an attempt to convince refugees to return back to Chechnya.
But some Chechen human rights activists are cautious about this repatriation.
“Although the [Russian] delegation pledged support and temporary places of settlement to the repatriated refugees, particular danger still persists, since there are no security guarantees,” human rights activist Aslanbek Abdulzakoev, who currently lives in Pankisi, told Civil Georgia on May 30.