19 November 2013
The 1992-93 war of cession of Abkhazia from Georgia resulted in Georgian military defeat, de facto independence for Abkhazia, and the ethnic cleansing and exodus of thousands of Georgians. Today, Abkhazia is recognized only by Russia and a handful of other countries. Some 200,000 people displaced by the conflict now live in Georgia, largely in buildings such as former schools, hospitals and hotels, which the Georgian government made available to shelter them.
One such is ‘Student City’ in Tbilisi—a 14-story building (intended as student accommodation before the refugees arrived) without a working elevator, and with water and electricity supply problems. Abkhazia is a painful topic for many Georgians. The people I spoke to in the Student City all believed that they would return ‘home’ one day. For me, this was an embodiment of hope—it had to do with time, patience, and an expectation of happiness.