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Internal displacement and the conflict in Abkhazia

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

In the internal displacement crisis arising from the secessionist armed conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia, ethnic Georgians are the principal victims. They have been displaced from Abkhazia by a policy of ethnic cleansing which, though perhaps not fully developed at the time of the actual displacement, has rendered the area ethnically homogeneous and certainly succeeded in ensuring that it so remains. This paper focuses on the nature and effectiveness of the international community's response to the ethnically-motivated displacement and resulting demographic manipulation. The mandate and operations of each of the relevant international actors involved, namely the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Military Observers (UNOMIG), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeepers, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), are examined to determine their protection function both separately and collectively. The constraints under which each organization must operate in this situation and concerns regarding Russia's dominance of the CIS operation for the pursuit of its own strategic interests are considered as contributing factors to the lack of effective protection for the internally displaced Georgians and those still at risk of so becoming.

Affiliations: 1: Peterhouse, Cambridge CB2 1RD, United Kingdom


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