UNHCR's Kyrgzstan air-lift to start this weekend

Briefing Notes, 18 June 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 18 June 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR's airlift into Kyrgyzstan is scheduled to launch this weekend. Two chartered Ilyushin-76 cargo planes carrying 80 tonnes of relief items are expected to arrive in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh. This initial assistance will help cover the immediate needs of about 15,000 people. The first flight, with 800 tents, is expected to land in Osh on Saturday 19 June, while the second plane carrying other aid from our emergency stockpile in Dubai is expected to be arriving on Sunday 20 June.

The situation in southern Kyrgyzstan remains fragile and tense. There are continued sporadic reports of violence. Access for humanitarian workers to many parts of Osh and southern Kyrgyzstan is extremely difficult and limited. We estimate some 300,000 people are internally displaced in Kyrgyzstan, while an additional 100,000 are estimated to have taken refuge in Uzbekistan.

UNHCR's part of a joint UN humanitarian funding appeal to assist the internally displaced population in Kyrgyzstan, being launched today in New York, amounts to some USD 10 million. The funds will allow UNHCR to cover the needs of some 260,000 internally displaced people who are currently being sheltered by families and host communities for the next three months. Some 40,000 others require immediate shelter. UNHCR has already spent some USD 2.5 million for initial aid to support the airlifts to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. A separate funding appeal is expected to be launched next week for Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile, the sixth relief flight into Uzbekistan is expected to land at Andijan airport later today. This will complete the initial airlift of some 240 tonnes of relief supplies. UNHCR began the airlift to Uzbekistan from its emergency stockpile in Dubai on Wednesday. UNHCR will continue to coordinate closely with the Uzbekistan government and the UN country team to identify and support the needs of the refugee population.

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A Place to Call Home: The Situation of Stateless Persons in the Kyrgyz Republic

Findings of surveys commissioned by UNHCR, Bishkek 2009.

Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan

Two decades after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, thousands of people in former Soviet republics like Kyrgyzstan are still facing problems with citizenship. UNHCR has identified more than 20,000 stateless people in the Central Asian nation. These people are not considered as nationals under the laws of any country. While many in principle fall under the Kyrgyz citizenship law, they have not been confirmed as nationals under the existing procedures.

Most of the stateless people in Kyrgyzstan have lived there for many years, have close family links in the country and are culturally and socially well-integrated. But because they lack citizenship documents, these folk are often unable to do the things that most people take for granted, including registering a marriage or the birth of a child, travelling within Kyrgyzstan and overseas, receiving pensions or social allowances or owning property. The stateless are more vulnerable to economic hardship, prone to higher unemployment and do not enjoy full access to education and medical services.

Since independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has taken many positive steps to reduce and prevent statelessness. And UNHCR, under its statelessness mandate, has been assisting the country by providing advice on legislation and practices as well as giving technical assistance to those charged with solving citizenship problems. The refugee agency's NGO partners provide legal counselling to stateless people and assist them in their applications for citizenship.

However, statelessness in Kyrgyzstan is complex and thousands of people, mainly women and children, still face legal, administrative and financial hurdles when seeking to confirm or acquire citizenship. In 2009, with the encouragement of UNHCR, the government adopted a national action plan to prevent and reduce statelessness. In 2011, the refugee agency will help revise the plan and take concrete steps to implement it. A concerted effort by all stakeholders is needed so that statelessness does not become a lingering problem for future generations.

Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan

The crisis in Kyrgyzstan

UNHCR was monitoring the returns of refugees and other displaced people to southern Kyrgyzstan as tens of thousands of people headed back to their communities. Violent clashes in Osh and other cities in southern Kyrgyzstan earlier this month had sent an estimated 300,000 fleeing to the countryside, while 100,000 had fled across the border into Uzbekistan.

Days after the attacks, Kyrgyz authorities were still trying to restore law and order in the south, where they reported that some 180 people were killed and 1,900 injured. Many of the internally displaced have been staying with host families with many also sleeping rough. In Uzbekistan, authorities reported more than 50 sites hosting refugees in the border provinces of Andijan, Ferghana and Namangan. Some refugees were staying in schools and other public buildings.

UNHCR has provided more than 300 tonnes of emergency assistance in a series of relief flights over the past week, working with the concerned governments and local partners in sometimes hazardous conditions.

The crisis in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan: One Year OnPlay video

Kyrgyzstan: One Year On

A year ago, when violence erupted in Kyrgyzstan, Saliya and her family hid in their basement for three days as fighting raged overhead. Life is slowly returning to normal today.
Kyrgyzstan: The Need to RebuildPlay video

Kyrgyzstan: The Need to Rebuild

Thousands of displaced people in the town of Osh are struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives.
Kyrgzstan: On the MovePlay video

Kyrgzstan: On the Move

Violence in early June in southern Kyrgyzstan forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes. In the Jalal-Abad region, some discuss their experiences.