DRI: Part of the population of the Gali district can no longer receive the IDP allowance and is on the verge of the humanitarian crisis
Part of the population living in the Gali district, who had been receiving the IDP allowance on the Georgia-controlled territory, is no longer able to receive the allowance due to the restrictions imposed by the de facto authorities in the context of the pandemic.
IDPs used to get their allowance through their Liberty Bank social card, which is issued for a period of 6 years, but its PIN code is valid for only a year. For the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19, the validity of the PIN code of major social cards was extended till July 1, 2020. After July 1, citizens will have to go to the bank in order to get a new PIN code for their plastic cards.
Up to now, the citizens of Georgia living in the occupied district of Gali used to give their plastic cards to those who were able to move to the Georgia-controlled territory and get the allowance via ATM for them. Due to the travel restrictions imposed by the de facto authorities during the pandemic, significant part of the Gali population have been unable to receive the allowance in this manner. Consequently, their plastic cards were blocked, as they had not been used for a long time, due to which, the residents of Gali even have to swim across the Enguri River at the risk of their own lives and health in order to enter the Georgia-controlled territory. Due to all this, the cases of detention of Georgian citizens have become more frequent.
As the Democracy Research Institute has learned, on July 7, the so-called Russian border guards wounded a Georgian citizen, who was trying to cross the so-called border. He was later taken to the Zugdidi Referral Hospital. On July 9, Russian border guards detained about 30 citizens for trying to swim across the Enguri River. Each of them faces an administrative fine ranging from 3,000 to 20,000 rubles for "illegally crossing the border".
The closure of the border caused other significant problems as well. On the one hand, the residents of Gali are not able to get subsistence minimum, and on the other hand, they are not able to buy food, medicines and other necessities even with the resources they have, as the Gali district had been supplied with products from the territory controlled by the Georgian side.
The Democracy Research Institute considers that the authorities could have requested the bank to extend the validity of PIN codes of plastic cards of the IDPs living in the occupied territories.
Given the scale of the problem, we call on the Georgian authorities to use both their own resources and the assistance of international organizations to supply the people of Gali with medicines and necessities.