What is happening in Gali?

For years, part of young people living in Gali have been choosing higher education institutions of Tbilisi to get higher education. The above has drawn the attention of the de facto authorities. On February 23, Inal Gablia, de-facto Minister of Education, visited Gali and met with public school teachers and representatives of school administrations. According to the contact person of the Democracy Research Institute, the topic of discussion at the meeting was the youth of Gali, who choose to go to Tbilisi instead of Sokhumi for getting higher education. According to the Minister, the de facto authorities are negotiating with the Russian Federation to achieve full funding for higher education in Russia for young people from the Gali district. Under the agreement, Gali school leavers will be able to get full funding for their higher education in Russia. Gablia expressed hope that this initiative will reduce the number of people wishing to study in Tbilisi. This approach of the de facto authorities has become especially active for the last 3 years. However, at this stage, a large number of young people from Gali want to continue their education at Tbilisi universities. The Democracy Research Institute believes that if implemented, the educational policy of the de facto authorities of Abkhazia will further reduce the opportunities of Gali residents to have contact with the Georgian party.

Among other issues, the occupied Gali has power supply problems. With the Enguri HPP closed for major repairs, the attempts of secret cryptocurrency mining has dramatically increased electricity consumption. According to locals, there will be a severe energy crisis in Abkhazia unless additional resources are allocated for the occupied region.

Gali residents are also worried about the difficult serious criminal situation. There are frequent cases of racketeering against store owners. In addition to the criminal groups, the Abkhazian militia also demands its "fee".

Some positive developments have been observed in the field of health care. Within a year after the start of the pandemic, people coming from Abkhazia used to be taken to a quarantine area where they had to stay for 12 days. About a week ago, in response to the insistent demand of the Gali population, the quarantine period was reduced to 5 days, which partially alleviated the situation of the Gali population. As a result, mobility from Gali increased and it became easier to transport medicines to Abkhazia. In addition, according to the contact person of the Democracy Research Institute, the field post located near the Enguri checkpoint plays a positive role.

The Georgian Government needs to pay special attention to the needs of the population of the occupied regions. The rights of ethnic Georgians are least protected in Abkhazia. Therefore, it is important for the Georgian authorities to take effective steps in a timely manner to alleviate the grave humanitarian situation created by the occupation, conflict and pandemic.