COVID-19: Tbilisi Warns of ‘Grave Situation’ in Abkhazia, Tskhinvali Due to Pandemic

The Georgian Government has raised the alarm on the “aggravating” COVID-19 situation in two occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia, as first Abkhazia resident from ethnic Georgian-majority Gali district has tested positive for coronavirus on Tbilisi-controlled territory.

“Since the onset of the outbreak, hundreds of people have entered Abkhazia from the Russian Federation, which has been affected by the disease. That one woman managed to get tested in Zugdidi Hospital and receive treatment does not mean that she is the sole person [residing in Abkhazia] infected with the virus,” stressed Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, overseeing the Russian-occupied regions.

State Minister Tsikhelashvili said that Georgia expressed readiness to provide aid for the citizens residing in two regions to tackle the pandemic.

Georgian health professionals have traced contacts of infected Abkhazia resident in her native Gali district, noted the Minister. Seven contacts have now been placed under quarantine in Georgia proper. Minister Tsikhelashvili mentioned that Rukhi General Hospital, located in a few kilometers from the dividing line, would soon be open to provide essential medical services for the population in Abkhazia.

Concerning state of affairs in occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Tsikhelashvili said situation in the region has become “alarming,” as Moscow-backed authorities bar residents from getting urgent medical care at hospitals located in Tbilisi-controlled territory.

“Tskhinvali authorities have even seized medicines with Georgian-language labels [produced in Georgia proper] from local pharmacies, despite drug shortages that they face,” the State Minister said. The humanitarian situation is further compounded by the fact that Tskhinvali has cut ties with all relief organizations bar the International Committee of the Red Cross, Minister Tsikhelashvili added.

The State Minister called on both Tskhinvali and Sokhumi to “take more reasonable steps” to ease the predicament of Georgian citizens, given the scale and severity of the pandemic.

Due to coronavirus concerns, on March 27, Sokhumi declared state of emergency effective until April 20. Sokhumi also issued a travel ban barring “foreign nationals and stateless persons” from entering Abkhazia, exempting Russian military and FSB personnel. Abkhaz authorities imposed a nighttime curfew in occupied Gali district in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to local media outlets, the measure is aimed at barring local residents from crossing the dividing line willing to travel to Georgia proper.

The Georgian government has numerously pledged to provide testing and treatment for Georgian citizens residing in the occupied regions. Sokhumi authorities rebuffed Tbilisi’s offer to lend a helping hand, commenting that “Abkhazia issued no requests [to Georgia proper], therefore they can keep their political speculations for themselves.” Tskhinvali , similarly, turned down Tbilisi’s proposal for assistance claiming that “Georgian authorities were trying to do political PR for themselves.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


Back to top button