Round Table on Demographic Issues Held in Sukhum

Viacheslav Chirikba, head of the Centre for Strategic Studies, highlighted the demographic problems in Abkhazia.

Viacheslav Chirikba, head of the Centre for Strategic Studies, highlighted the demographic problems in Abkhazia.

SUKHUM / AQW'A ― On May 16, a round table dedicated to addressing demographic challenges was held at the Centre for Strategic Studies under the President of Abkhazia. The event brought together experts to discuss the pressing issues impacting the nation's population dynamics.

Viacheslav Chirikba, head of the Centre for Strategic Studies, highlighted the complexity of the demographic situation in his opening remarks. He identified several key problems: low birth rates, high mortality rates, uncontrolled migration, late marriages, and small family sizes. Contributing factors include unemployment, low wages amid high living costs, high mortality from car accidents, drug addiction, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chirikba emphasised the importance of tightening citizenship procedures for those born abroad, noting, “Every year, the Citizenship Commission approves about 3,000 applications. Over ten years, approximately 30,000 people receive our passports. While some are necessary specialists, not all are.”

The discussion also highlighted the outdated population data, with the last census conducted in 2011. From 2011 to 2019, the population grew by 4,541 people, but it decreased by 1,288 from 2019 to 2023. Abkhazians now make up slightly more than half of the population, with their number increasing by only 3,168 from 2011 to 2022.

There are around half a million Abkhazians living in diaspora, mainly in Türkiye. If the international isolation of Abkhazia is lifted and the country experiences economic growth, there could be a significant return of diaspora members to their homeland, positively impacting the demographic situation.

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Astanda Hashba, a candidate of historical sciences, pointed out the serious demographic threats, including rising mortality rates, declining birth rates in both urban and rural areas, fewer marriages, and increased divorce rates. Despite these challenges, Hashba believes there is potential for population growth through continued socio-economic development, better healthcare, and education, and making large families a state-supported program.

Kama Gogia, head of the State Statistics Committee, stressed the need for accurate demographic data and called for a new census. She also highlighted issues with current data collection and analysis, as well as the trend of women giving birth in Russia to receive maternity capital, which skews local birth data.

The round table underscored the necessity of a comprehensive approach to solving demographic problems, integrating improved medical care, socio-economic support, and stricter citizenship regulations to ensure the growth and sustainability of the Abkhaz population.




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