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Page last updated at 03:43 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 04:43 UK

UN monitors to leave Georgia

By Tom Esslemont
BBC News, Tbilisi

Russian troops on tanks and armoured cars, file photo August 2008
Russian troops entered Abkhazia last August during hostilities with Georgia

The last remaining United Nations observers in Georgia leave their posts on Wednesday, a month after their mandate expired.

The UN Security Council failed to extend the mission of the 130 observers last month, due to a Russian veto.

Last August, Russia backed Abkhazia's declaration of independence from Georgia. But no other international organisation has done so.

The monitors have been in the region for 16 years, monitoring a ceasefire.

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Their mandate ceased to exist exactly one month ago.

So, as they prepare to leave their field offices in Abkhazia and Georgia, there will be no farewell ceremony. They will simply pack their bags and leave.

Russia backed the region's declaration of independence from Georgia following the short but devastating war in the other disputed territory of South Ossetia.

This has made it very difficult for international organisations to go about their work.

The UN says it deeply regrets the end of the mission's mandate.

It had been in the region since 1993, when it was deployed to report violations of an earlier ceasefire between Georgian forces and Abkhaz separatists.

From now on, there will be no international peace monitors working inside either of the volatile, disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

There are concerns that the remaining populations will now live in a security vacuum, finding it harder to draw attention to their problems.



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