A tragic information was disseminated yesterday by media regarding the discovery of several dead bodies in Enguri River near the Shamgona village. According to this information, the residents of Gali region were trying to trespass from the occupied territories to the controlled territory of Georgian through the Enguri River. Whilst crossing it, 3 of the trespassers passed away, whilst the 4th person is missing.
Signatory organizations send their condolences to the families of the deceased and express our concern over the inappropriate protection of the rights of Georgian citizens living in the occupied territories by the state institutions. For years, NGOs have been responding to the limitations of the rights of citizens living in and alongside the occupied territories and the existing crisis, and have called on the authorities to take effective action.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the closure of the Enguri checkpoint without prior notice for an indefinite period of time has left people without any basic and vital services. Following the closure of the so-called “Administrative Border”, local population found itself completely isolated and in a humanitarian crisis because it did not have access to adequate medical care, food, pensions or other necessary services. It is noteworthy, that effective measures were taken by the state to provide pensions, in particular at a certain time it was possible to receive money through mobile banking cars near the bridge or through Russian bank ATMs in Gali.
The introduction of a five-day mandatory quarantine for the population moving from the occupied territories to receive basic services has created a new barrier for the population. Due to the hindering factors, refraining from crossing to the Georgian-controlled territory and/or uncontrolled crossing of the so-called “border” posed a threat to health, economic, physical and other types of security of the population. The uncontrolled crossing of the dividing line to access basic services and social assistance has claimed many lives.
We - the signatory organizations call on to protect the rights of Georgian citizens in the occupied territories:
The Government of Georgia:
❖ Use all possible diplomatic and international legal mechanisms to protect the rights of persons living in the occupied territories;
❖ Review the decision of the Government of Georgia for a five-day mandatory quarantine for Georgian citizens leaving the occupied territories and conduct PCR tests for the population at checkpoints, which will ensure timely and safe movement of residents;
❖ Ensure that the needs of medical facilities in the so-called “border region” of the controlled territory of Georgia are met and satisfied;
❖ Provide simplified electronic mechanisms for the population living in the occupied territories to process with documents and restore their social benefits.
❖ Urgently begin negotiations on the safe and unrestricted movement of people living in uncontrolled areas with the active involvement of the Geneva International Discussions Co-Chairs and the Participants of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism;
❖ Intensify efforts to monitor their activities in the occupied territories and to establish a human rights monitoring mechanism.
Security Service of Georgia:
❖ Investigate the causes of tragic events in a timely manner and identify responsible sides.
1. IDP Women Association “Consent”
2. Georgian Young Lawyers' Association - GYLA
3. Cultural-Humanitarian Fund "Sukhumi"
4. Institute for the Study of Nationalism and Conflicts
5. Fund “Abkhazintercont”
6. Fund Of Women Entrepreneurs
7. Association "Peaceful and Business Caucasus."
8. Social Justice Center
9. Association “Saunje”
10. Women’s Movement for Peace "IMEDI"
11. Teachers Union “Education and the World”
12. Caucasus Dialogue
13. Social Programs Foundation
14. Public Health Foundation of Georgia (PHF)
15. Georgia Committee on Relief GEOCOR
Interpressnews, “Rescuers Removed the Bodies of 3 People from the Enguri River, They Were Trying to Reach Controlled Territory of Georgia by Passing from Gali”, 2021. Available: https://bit.ly/3rXyp3p
 State Security Service of Georgia Statement, 2021. Available: https://bit.ly/31Wn8pD
 GYLA Statement, "The Situation of People Living in the Occupied Territories is Still Alarming", 30.12.2019. Available: https://bit.ly/37ZcbGz
 Livepress, “At Home, Just Like Prison – Locked in Gali”, 2021. Available: https://bit.ly/3t1oXxe
 Reginfo, “A Nurse that Arrived from Gali to Visit a Doctor has Passed Away While Staying at the Covid Hotel”, 2021. Available: https://bit.ly/3wA6gDb