Eighty-eight families from separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia have so far been evicted from buildings in Tbilisi that doubled as temporary shelters, and herded onto buses to be driven, the government said, to the destination of their choice.
Scuffles with police erupted on December 20 as many IDPs and their supporters resisted resettlement from a suburban Tbilisi dormitory to areas with little employment and welfare opportunities. Television footage showed a middle-aged woman wrestling with policemen and finally hustled away beyond the cordon. She and two other women were eventually arrested and handed 400-lari (about $221) fines for defying police orders. The chairperson of one IDP rights group and one opposition party member were sentenced to two weeks in prison.
Government officials say the state cannot afford to provide housing in the capital for all IDPs, and argue that the 22 buildings targeted for evictions are occupied illegally. As an alternative, the IDPs were offered housing in the western region of Samegrelo, central region of Imereti or southeastern region of Kakheti, Minister of Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees Koba Subeliani said.
On January 21, refugees were removed from two other buildings without incident.