In Abkhazia and South Ossetia/the Tskhinvali region, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in human rights abuses and significant deterioration in the social, economic and rights situation of the local population.
The Democracy Research Institute published a report entitled "One year of the pandemic in Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region", which analyzes the developments in the occupied territories as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the human rights situation. The report covers the period from April 2020 to May 5, 2021.
The report provides statistics on Covid-19 in the occupied regions; Vaccination process; Restrictions imposed due to the pandemic; The right to education; Access to medical services and medicines; Measures taken by the Georgian Government and activities of non-governmental organizations.
The Democracy Research Institute calls on the Georgian authorities to:
- Become more active in relation to the occupied regions. The events developed around Akhalgori show that the Government does not have a specific action plan for managing crises. It is important to make a list of people working in the humanitarian direction. In addition, several alternative ways should be planned in advance for the timely delivery of food and medicines to the population.
- The State should provide additional assistance to schools in the Gali district, including by supplying technical equipment and encouraging the entry of a high-speed internet provider in the villages adjacent to the dividing line.
- When planning activities relating to children’s rights, take into account the needs of children living along the administrative boundary line in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.
- Ensure that people living in Tskhinvali and Abkhazia receive medical services/medicines on time. Therefore, it is necessary for the State to start taking measures to address these issues, as well as to simplify services for patients from Gali and Akhalgori.
- Ensure proper supply of local hospitals with medicines and other medical equipment. Communication lines should be established with medical personnel in the Tskhinvali region in order to share experience in virus management and treatment.
- Consider the specific needs of thousands of people living in Gali and Akhalgori in the anti-crisis plan approved in response to the pandemic. Due to the closure of the crossing point, the conflict-affected population, who live in the territory controlled by Georgia, but move to Gali for seasonal work or trade (mostly women), have been left without a source of livelihood. It is important that their needs be addressed in the state support programme.
- In cooperation with international organizations and in compliance with sanitary norms, provide permanently functioning points along the administrative boundary line to enable persons coming from Abkhazia to purchase medicines, products and bare necessities.
- Use all mechanisms to achieve the reopening of crossing points closed in recent years.
- Develop targeted programmes tailored to the needs of the population of Tskhinvali and Abkhazia, as well as people living along the dividing line, in order to reduce the impact of the pandemic for the population. Specifically, in addition to the existing education and healthcare programmes, it is necessary to create a state programme of special financial assistance.
The pandemic has made it easier to popularize Russian forces and increase its influence in occupied Tskhinvali and Abkhazia. Therefore, it is important to take into account the above recommendations and plan the necessary measures to implement them, in order to improve the situation of the population living in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, as well as along the dividing line.
The report is available here