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Georgia evicts refugees (21.08.11)

Tbilisi’s Hotel Abkhazia may look a far cry from its lush, subtropical namesake. But for the former hotel’s tenants – Georgians displaced from breakaway South Ossetia during the early-1990s separatist war – it was, until their eviction this week, second only to home.

While Georgia’s top officials, with most of Tbilisi’s elite in tow, enjoy the glitzy song and dance shows at Batumi’s booming seaside resorts, a sorry scene has played out back in the capital. Despite emotional pleas, police herded the internally displaced people, including elderly women and children, out from the rundown former hotel on August 15. Some 270 families were ejected as the government made good on a promise to remove IDPs from makeshift collective centers around the city.

The IDPs from “Abkhazia” were offered alternative housing in Rustavi, an erstwhile Soviet industrial town southeast of the capital, or compensation of ,000 – too little to buy an apartment even in Tbilisi’s suburbs. Many fear they will have trouble integrating again and finding jobs.

The Georgian government has faced criticism from both local and international rights groups for displacing its displaced. This month, Amnesty International issued a scathing report on the forced evictions, “Uprooted Again,” which found Georgia had broken its international human rights obligations.

“Evictions failed to satisfy international standards relating to adequate consultation, notice, access to legal remedies and the offer of adequate alternative accommodation to all those evicted,” said the Amnesty report.