Tbilisi Offers Help as Wildfire Rages Across Abkhazia, Sokhumi Declines
The central Georgian Government has offered assistance to the Kremlin-backed Abkhaz authorities in quelling the forest fires through various means, including by using helicopters, Reconciliation Minister Tea Akhvlediani said in a January 8 press briefing.
The State Minister for Reconciliation noted that the Georgian Government offered its assistance as soon as the wildfires broke out. She said Tbilisi activated the EUMM managed hotline several times, adding that the communication with Sokhumi is ongoing.
Minister Akhvlediani noted that Tbilisi is still waiting for a definite response to its offer, to immediately get involved in the firefighting operation.
Sergei Shamba, head of the Abkhaz security council told Georgian media today that Sokhumi is in no need to receive Tbilisi’s help in extinguishing wildfires.
Abkhazia has struggled with the wildfire for five days already, since the initial outbreak on January 4 near nine villages of ethnic Georgian Gali district. According to Abkhaz media reports, the village of Zemo Barghebi was damaged the most, where at least three houses burned down.
Efforts are currently underway to quell the forest fires in the coastal town of Gagra, where fire approached residential buildings and a major highway.
Fires also erupted in Gudauta and Ochamchire districts, which were extinguished on January 7, Abkhaz authorities said. Alkhas Kirtbaya, deputy head of the fire and rescue department of the Gudauta district told Abkhaz media that extinguishing fires required a special helicopter that Abkhaz ‘ministry of emergency situations’ does not have. Kirtbaya added that it was still early to seek help from the Russian authorities.
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