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Three Drown in Enguri Trying to Leave Abkhazia

Three residents of Russian-occupied Abkhazia’s Gali district perished, as they tried to cross the Enguri river to Georgia proper, Georgia’s State Security Service (SSG) reported today.

The SSG said the three residents of the ethnic Georgian majority district took to the Enguri river to avoid being detained by the occupation forces for crossing the dividing line on the ground.

“The mentioned fact represents a result of restrictions unlawfully imposed by the occupation regime over free movement and damaging practice of unlawful detentions,” stated the Georgian State Security Service.

The Office of State Minister for Reconciliation stated that the restrictions on free movement have already cost multiple lives.

Abkhaz authorities have effectively closed the Enguri crossing point since late February 2020, citing coronavirus pandemic fears. Sokhumi has allowed several humanitarian corridors with Georgia proper since then, and slightly eased the crossing rules in February 2021 for certain groups, including the elderly, pensioners, and persons with special needs. But there is no full reopening in sight so far after a year-long closure.

Few days ago, Abkhaz authorities said they detained around 3,000 Gali district residents in the first quarter of 2021 for attempted “illegal” crossings into Georgia proper.

In the meantime, five-day coronavirus quarantine imposed by the Georgian central government for traveling from Abkhazia to the rest of Georgia adds to hardships experienced by Gali residents.

In mid-March, a female resident of Gali district, seeking medical help in the Tbilisi-controlled territory, died as she was sent to quarantine instead of hospital.

Gali district is home to over 30,000 people, of which the absolute majority are ethnic Georgians with Georgian citizenship.

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

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