DRI - Government Should Develop Additional Support Programs for Citizens Living in the Occupied Regions
Citizens living in the occupied regions constantly face the security, financial and freedom of movement problems. Recent developments in Akhalgori show that the pressure of the occupation forces on the local population is increasing.

Introduction of the so-called “mitigation measures” towards Akhalgori population on December 2 has not put an end to the humanitarian crisis. People living in Akhalgori still face significant challenges and problems. Specifically, according to the measures proposed by the occupation forces:

• Patients suffering from serious diseases are allowed to move to the territory controlled by Georgia only after arriving in Tskhinvali from Akhalgori, which is a threat to the life and health of people with medical needs;
• According to unofficial reports, only the pensioners who receive Georgian pensions alone will be allowed to cross the occupation line. As for the rest of the population, which do not belong to this category, they are still fully prevented from enjoying their right to free movement.

The so-called “mitigation” of the restriction imposed by occupation forces should be assessed as a very small step towards resolving the problem and the discussions on this should continue at the international level so that this new practice is not accepted as a norm. Otherwise, the danger that the population completely leave Akhalgori is real.

Given the current challenges, the Democracy Research Institute (DRI) believes that it is necessary to develop additional mechanisms to support people living in the occupied regions.
• The actions of the authorities towards the occupied regions should become proactive. Developments around Akhalgori has shown that in times of crisis like this, the authorities don’t have a specific action plan, such as the creation of a humanitarian list, the timely delivery of food and medicines to the population. There should be several implementation directions for this.
• People living in the occupied regions face different challenges from those living in the territories controlled by Georgia and, therefore, special support mechanisms should be developed for them. Specifically, in addition to existing education and health programs, it is necessary to establish a special financial assistance government program.

The Democracy Research Institute calls on the authorities not to allow so-called “mitigation” regime to be established as the “accepted norm” and to demand the freedom of movement without restrictions for Akhalgori population.