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The New Abkhazians
December 18, 2018
by Thomas Dworzak
Since 2012 approximately 500 Syrian refugee families have left their war-torn homeland to settle in the partially-recognized Caucasian Republic of Abkhazia. While many nations were closing their borders to the waves of refugees, the Abkhaz government was happy to receive the newcomers, among whom were descendants of Abkhazia’s native Circassian people.
With Russia’s support, Abkhazia successfully gained independence from Georgia at the conclusion of the 1992-1993 war. Ethnic cleansing resulted in the deaths of 13,000-20,000 and displacement of 200,000-250,000 Georgians who had lived in Abkhazia. With the Georgians gone, the new nation had lost half of their population. Today’s Abkhaz government, determined to compete with their Georgian foes, are hoping to boost their population and insure the growth of their nation. With Abkhazian interests in mind, in 2013 the Russian Embassy secured several charter flights to ferry refugees from Syria to Abkhazia, many of whom moved into former Georgians’ homes.
Despite the welcome, the new Abkhazians have faced problems: Russian financial support has dropped off and there’s distrust between the Muslim Syrians and Christian Abkhaz.

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