Georgian police force refugees on to street

Police in the Georgian capital Tbilisi are forcing hundreds of refugees from Abkhazia to leave the building they have been squatting in for years.

Georgian police are evicting at least 400 refugees from the multi-storey building, previously the headquarters of the Soviet Army.

According to Georgian opposition leader Lasha Chkhartishvili, authorities are putting refugees into a difficult position.

"The overwhelming majority of evicted refugees have nowhere to go, and the authorities have not offered them another place to live," Chkhartishvili was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying. He added that within few hours refugees will start a rally to protest the authorities’ actions.

However, according to a representative of the Abkhazian government in exile based in Tbilisi, several years ago, refugees received money to buy apartments, but preferred to stay in the building.

He also added that the refugees are offered accommodation in western Georgia, but are unwilling to move from Tbilisi.