Georgian Public Defender called on the authorities not to evict internally displaced persons from two collective centers in Tbilisi unless agreement on adequate alternative housing or financial compensation is reached with them as envisaged by the law.
Internally displaced families living in a building in Saburtalo district, formerly hotel "Abkhazia" and in a building in Ortachala neighborhood, formerly a Resort Management Institute, have been notified by the ministry in charge of IDPs to leave the buildings. Eviction from "Abkhazia" is expected by August 15 and from another collective center in Ortachala on August 18.
About 270 IDP families living in "Abkhazia", who were displaced as a result of armed conflict in early 1990s in South Ossetia, have been offered either USD 10,000 as a compensation or a living space in town of Rustavi close to Tbilisi; an apartment building in Rustavi is currently under construction and the authorities say they would cover rent fee for those IDP families who will agree on settlement in Rustavi before the new apartment building is built there. Many families living in "Abkhazia" are against of the offer and have been holding protest rallies against planned eviction.
On August 13 part of IDP families living in hotel "Abkhazia" agreed on receiving USD 10,000 in compensation and started emptying thier living spaces.
IDP families living in the collective center in Ortachala have been offered resettlement to a building of a kindergarten located in Vazisubani, a suburb of the capital city. It was reported on August 13, that over two dozen of IDP families, displaced from Abkhazia in early 1990s, living in this collective center have agreed on alternative offer and would move to a building formerly housing kindergarten in Vazisubani.
The Public Defender's Office said in a statement on August 12, that the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees should "take into account and protect the interests of the IDPs in terms of the offers and the adequacy of the compensatory sums."
It also said that the ministry should also "ensure that the IDPs are not evicted... until written agreements are concluded with them in full compliance with the Georgian legislation".
Legal advocacy group, Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), also said that forced eviction of those IDP families living in these two buildings, which are qualified as "collective centers" and not as "temporary shelters", without reaching an agreement would be violation of the law on internally displaced persons.
A total of 1,248 displaced families were evicted from various buildings in Tbilisi in two rounds of evictions, between June 2010 and February 2011. 279 of them qualified for resettlement and they were offered houses in ownership in remote rural areas, far from the capital city. Most of those families declined the offer, because of limited employment and livelihood opportunities in those rural areas.
Although the authorities launched transferring some of the collective centers in ownership to IDP families living there, the same rule does not apply to some other collective centers, especially to those, which have high real estate value. These two buildings from where the eviction is expected next week, reportedly, already have private investors.