We note the announcement of the imminent closure of Khurcha-Nabakevi and Orsantia-Otobaia crossing points along the Inguri River. It is incumbent on the United Nations to raise the very real concerns of the population being negatively impacted by these changes, creating greater vulnerability and isolation of those living in the adjacent areas. Based on observed patterns the closure of the remaining pedestrian crossing points will likely affect at least 1,000 crossings a day on average.
The United Nations are concerned that the announced restrictions will have negative consequences for the humanitarian and development needs of those living in Abkhazia, Georgia. As movement is further restricted, the people of Abkhazia will find it more difficult to access basic services such as healthcare and education and participate in economic activities and social events such as weddings, funerals and public holiday commemorations, as well as family gatherings across the dividing line. Notably, access to education for children who have been crossing to attend schools in their mother tongue will be impeded.
We wish to recall the words of the United Nations Secretary-General, who, in his report to the General Assembly in May 2016, urged the authorities in control to reconsider and avoid closing any further crossing points. In his words, the issue of freedom of movement across the administrative boundary line has security, humanitarian and human rights dimensions and remains of utmost importance to the local population.
Again, we urge relevant parties to consider the impact of the announced closing measure on the welfare of the local residents. We call on all sides to ensure the rights and needs of all people living in Abkhazia are respected.
The United Nations remain open to continue our constructive dialogue and support finding practical solutions to the issues that may arise.
26 January 2017