Abkhazia was originally a province of Georgia, it separates the Georgian coast from the Russian coast. The population consisted of ethnic Abkhazians and Georgians. Beginning in 1992, Abkhazin separatists demanded independence, which led to rising tensions between the population groups. These culminated in pogroms against ethnic Georgians, with thousands of civilian deaths. Russia supported the breakaway region and occupied parts of it with its own troops. More than 100,000 Georgians were forced to flee south to the inland and now they live all over the country. Various attempts at reconciliation or reunification failed, and in 2008 Russia recognized Abkhazia as sovereign and independent.

During the Soviet Union, the town of Tskaltubo was a popular vacation destination. After the dissolution of the Union, most of the sanatoriums were no longer used. During the Georgian-Abkhazian War of 1992/93, the abandoned buildings became home to thousands of refugees. Originally intended as a temporary solution, many of them still live there today. They hope to get other accommodation from the government or to return to their homeland one day.

„This is our home. I live here with my sister, brother and grandmother.“

„I live in Shamgona, across the river is my house in Abkhazia. So close yet so far.“

I am Tea, 42 years old and a journalist. My hometown is in Abkhazia. I was 15 years old when the war started and we fled to the small village of Shamgona across the river. When I crossed the bridge with my mother and younger brother, we saw black smoke rising from the houses we had left behind. On the foreign side of the river we were left without clothes, shoes and food. In the new village, everyone tried to give us something and help. So we found a new home and the years passed. I finished school in Shamgona and got married and now have two daughters.

Tea, IDP from Abkhazia