Issue 4.1 | February 2000 | Information in this issue may be outdated. Click here to link to the most recent issue.
Following the April 9, 1991 independence from the former Soviet Union, Georgia
was beset by ethnic and civil strife. The continuing argument over the political
status of Abkhazia resulted in war. In September 1993, Georgian forces withdrew
from the Abkhazia region. Although Georgia stabilized, South Ossetia and Abkhazia
remain elusive. The conflict in South Ossetia has been dormant since spring
1994, but sporadic violence continues between Abkhaz forces and Georgian partisans
in western Georgia. Of their estimated population of 5,000,000, Georgia still
has about 250,000 internally displaced people as a result of these conflicts.
After adopting a new constitution in October 1995, Georgia has focused on
economic reform and governmental stability.
and UXO Overview: The U.N. Security Council has condemned the continued
laying of mines, including mines of a more sophisticated type, and has called
upon parties to take all measures to prevent mine-laying. Mines exploded in
the town of Ochamchire and later during the November 1996 elections in Abkhazia.
Abkhazia is heavily mined and these mines prevent the repatriation of ethnic
Georgian refugees. The Inguri River is the front line of the conflict and
the riverbanks on the Abkhaz side are mined. Major and secondary roads are
mined. The Gali area of Abkhazia is especially affected by mines. There are
an estimated 150,00 AT and AP mines in Georgia. The mines are predominantly
along the Inguri River, the coastline of Gali Province, which contain an estimated
15,000 mines, and in the Ochamchira and Tkvartcheli regions, which contain
an estimated 27,000. There are maps documenting the mine fields, but many
of the mines are unmarked, some maps are incorrect and access to the true
maps is limited.
and Casualties: School children have been blown up taking shortcuts and
Civilians and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Peacekeepers have been
killed and wounded, but there has been a recent reduction in casualties because
a large number of people have left the mined territories. According to information
from the Head of Science and Technical Research Department of Georgian Army
General Staff, about 70 percent of casualties during the war were landmine
Demining: Georgia has no national capacity for demining, mine awareness
programs or survivor assistance. It lacks funds, proper equipment and trained
deminers to conduct mine clearance operations. The government has expressed
an interest in U.N. demining assistance, but none can be provided without
similar approval from the Abkhaz side. The non-governmental organization HALO
Trust is conducting humanitarian mine clearance in Abkhazia. The CIS Peacekeeping
Forces in the Gali area refused to carry out further mine clearance in 1996
because of the security situation.