The protesters demand simpler procedures for obtaining social assistance. (DF Watch photo.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–It has caused strong reactions in Georgia that a one year old child died of hunger late at night on March 22. All over the country people are demonstrating against hunger and poverty.

According to the doctors, one year-old Gogita Abashidze died of hunger. But doctors believe that he would not have been able to survive even with sufficient nutrition, because he also suffered from an intestinal problem.

Abashidze belonged to be a large family in the village Khelvachauri, in the Adjara region, which is located on the Black Sea shores. Four other children live in the Abashidzes household, which are living bwlow the poverty line and are not receiving social allowance.

Information about the one year-old child’s difficulties was reported March 21.

March 23, youth held protest rally outside the parliament building in Kutaisi. They protested against the complicated procedure for receiving social allowance and demanded that the procedure is made simpler to avoid this type of tragedies. Rally participants also set up a charity account and people transferred money to support the afflicted family, in total collecting about USD 660, with food, toys and sweets to give them to the family the same day.

Ombudsman Ucha Nanuashvili said this story will become a turning point for defending the rights of children. At the president’s palace, the Georgian flag was lowered to half-mast on March of 24.

President Mikheil Saakashvili said no-one should die from hunger in the twenty-first century. He called on the government not to sit at its offices, but to go to families and study problems of the poor.

“This is a huge tragedy – death of Gogita Abashidze. Today I gave the order to let down the flag as a sign of condolence, but it also should be a lesson for everyone, for each of us,” Saakashvili said.

He called poverty one of the biggest enemies of Georgia and said the country should fight against it together.

The leaders of Georgian Dream coalition as well as the local government of the Adjara region expressed its condolences for the death of the child.

A demonstration was organized in Tbilisi under the following name: ‘all children are children of all’ which was held in order to protest poverty, terrible living conditions and hunger in the country.

People came with posters, some of which read ‘SoS’, ‘hunger of child is a shame’, ‘let’s take care of each-other’. The demonstration was joined by socially vulnerable people, who retold their stories to journalists.

“We protest our own inaction and failure. This must not happen again,” invitation of the demonstration read.

People organized demonstration from the down-town Tbilisi to the office of the Public Broadcaster, in order to demand TV air time to discuss this problem. Despite small scuffle at the Television, achievement was achieved and discussion will be live on TV, but yet date and format need to be finally agreed.