Georgia marks 22 years since Abkhazia conflict

People left their home after the War. More then 250,000 Georgians became IDPs or refugees. Photo Sali Todua., 14 Aug 2014 - 12:32, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia is commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the Abkhazia war, which after the clash saw Abkhazia become a breakaway region of Georgia.

The confrontation started on August 14, 1992, and lasted for 403 days. It was one of many conflicts precipitated by the breakup of the Soviet Union and was one of the bloodiest, most consequential and most unresolved battles of the time.

During the 1992-93 conflict, tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers lost their lives and about 300,000 people were displaced.

The Abkhazia war was waged mainly between Georgian government forces on one side and Abkhaz separatist forces on the other, who fought for independence of Abkhazia from Georgia, supported by Russian armed forces and North Caucasian hired fighters.

On the first day of the war, Georgian police and National Guard units were dispatched to restore governmental control over Abkhazia. The ranks of Georgian troops were filled partially by "emptying the jails" as some inmates were released on the condition they fight in Abkhazia.

Handling of this conflict was aggravated by civil strife in Georgia between supporters of the ousted Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia and the post-coup government headed by the late Eduard Shevardnadze, as well as the Georgian–Ossetian conflict.

Significant human rights violations and atrocities were reported on all sides and peaked in the aftermath of the Abkhaz capture of Sukhumi on September 27, 1993, which was followed by a large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing against the ethnic Georgian population, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The United Nations Secretary General fact-finding mission reported numerous and serious human rights violations were committed by both sides.

Between 13,000 and 20,000 ethnic Georgians and approximately 3,000 Abkhaz were reported to be killed, more than 250,000 Georgians became internally displaced or refugees and 2,000 were considered missing.

Post-Soviet Georgia was heavily affected by the war and suffered considerable financial, human and psychological damage. Abkhazia has been devastated by the war and subsequently, sporadic conflict continued.

As a result of the war, Georgia effectively lost control over Abkhazia and the region established itself as a de-facto independent territory.

Relations between Russia and Abkhazia improved in the late 1990s and the economic blockade of Abkhazia was lifted.

Laws were also passed allowing other countries to become part of the Russian Federation, which was interpreted by some as an offer to Abkhazia and other unrecognised countries of the former Soviet Union.

This dispute persisted without major incident as a frozen conflict until 2008, when a large-scale Russian military intervention invaded Georgia, which re-ignited hostilities and led to Moscow’s unilateral recognition of Abkhazia as an independent state.