The needs of people living along the occupation line (Kirbali, Tsitsagiantkari and Dirbi)

We visited the villages of Kirbali and Tsitsagiantkari of the Gori municipality, located along the occupation line, on March 10. We had scheduled meetings in the villages of Dirbi and Dvani of the Kareli municipality as well, but despite our efforts, we could not enter the village of Dvani to study the needs of the local population on the ground.


According to the 2014 census,[1] 517 people live in the village of Kirbali of the Zeghduleti community, Gori municipality. According to locals, there are about 165 households in the village.

Kirbali borders the territory controlled by the Russian military. People can freely enter and move in the village. There is no Georgian police post on the Zerti-Kirbali road section. Since 2013, Russian troops have been erecting banners and stretching ribbons in the outskirts of the village, which further strengthens the locals’ sense of insecurity. According to the locals, it is dangerous to approach the mentioned area.  

Kirbali, the vicinity of the Virgin Mary Church, the upper part of the territory marked in red is cordoned off by the Russian military with ribbons  

The people we interviewed in the village complained about the quality of drinking water, which is supplied only for one hour each other day. They say that the water is not safe to drink, according to laboratory tests. Locals want the quality of water to be checked by the state as well.

The second major problem is the poor state of drainage channels, which prevents children from going to school during heavy rainfall and creates problems for farmers when they want to irrigate their orchards. Locals also point out that they cannot properly take care of their orchards due to their low income.

The village of Kirbali is supplied with gas. As the village enjoys the status of a mountainous settlement, each family gets GEL 200 voucher to cover their heating costs in winter. However, they say that the above is not enough and they still try to use firewood for heating.

Most families do not have cattle. According to the locals, the village has lost 62 hectares of land, including pastures, after the start of the creeping occupation in 2013. They say they lost 18 cows along the so-called border last year alone and have been compensated for only 6 of them.  


Kirbali pastures used by locals before the occupation

The villagers are especially worried about the fact that the part of the village cemetery is now on the other side of the so-called border. They encounter problems in visiting local shrines as well. The niche of St. George's Church of Lomisi, built on a hill in the outskirts of the village, is now in the occupied zone and thus the villagers’ access to the church is restricted. They had had the opportunity to go to the church at least on religous holidays before 2018, but they lost even this opportunity in 2019. As for the Virgin Mary Church, which is on the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities, locals have limited access to it because of security concerns, as there is an occupation line just 100 meters away.

There is an elementary school (9 grades) in the village, graduates of which continue their studies at the public school of Zerti. Currently, the village has only four students above the 9th grade, who go to the Zerti public school.

Residents of the village are mostly poor and complain about the problem of unemployment. They want at least the young people to be involved in the ongoing rehabilitation of the Kirbali-Bershueti road section.

During our visit to the village, we spoke to A.Sh.’s family with many children, the juvenile member of which had been arrested by the occupation forces while gathering firewood and had been taken to the Tskhinvali prison. Later, he was released due to being a juvenile.  


According to the 2014 census,[1] 243 people live in the village of Tsitsagiantkari in the Akhalubani community, Gori municipality. The village borders the occupied territory. There is no Georgian police post at the entrance to the village or along the occupation line.

Tsitsagiantkari along the occupation line

According to the locals, the village is particularly affected by the issue of irrigation water. As for drinking water, only one out of three districts is not supplied with it. The residents of the village also complain about the absence of an outpatient clinic and a pharmacy shop. The village does not have a kindergarten or a primary school either, which is why the children are taken to the neighboring village of Akhrisi by public transport.

Due to the problems listed above, the village is being abandoned. The locals say there are only 60-70 households left in the village. Our visit coincided with the collapse of a wall of one of the villagers' houses, which made the building a dangerous place to live in.

Tsitsagiantkari, T.C.’s house


The village of Dirbi of the Kareli municipality is located near the villages of Dvani and Takhtisdziri. Several orchards of the locals border the occupied territory. According to the 2014 census, 2 569 people live in the village. There is a quiet and safe environment in the village. Locals now work in their orchards as the spring has come. They mainly talk about the problem of selling their crops and unemployment of the youth. They are particularly concerned about the young people with higher education leaving the village.
Local women are mostly busy with household chores, gardening and taking care of cattle.


We were stopped at the police post in the village of Dvani, Kareli municipality, and were not allowed to enter the village, although the Ministry of Internal Affairs had been warned of our visit in advance.

Tsitsagiantkari, a local resident near the occupation banner

[1] Results of the 2014 census, available at:

[2] Results of the 2014 census, available at: