• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR assisting some 375,000 displaced in southern Kyrgyzstan

Briefing Notes, 29 June 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 29 June 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The situation in southern Kyrgyzstan remained relatively calm over the weekend. Humanitarian access to different parts of Osh, Jalalabad and villages in southern parts of the country is gradually improving.

Over the past few days UNHCR teams have visited several neighbourhoods in Osh, including Margelan Darvaza Mahala in the Kyzyl-Kyshlak area of the city. We have seen widespread destruction in this area, with around 95% of houses having been set on fire. People are still deeply traumatized by the violence of earlier this month.

Many in these neighbourhoods still sleep in the open, often within completely destroyed homes. UNHCR was the first humanitarian team to visit the area. There are no services such as water and electricity. People reported being deprived of health services and many have lost identity documents, either in looting or fires.

It is our estimate that 375,000 people remain still displaced in Kyrgyzstan, including refugees who returned from Uzbekistan. The government reports that more than 10,000 internally displaced people have returned to their homes in Osh, but we are unable to confirm with reliability the remaining numbers of displaced. People are still on the move as they try to assess the security situation. Several former open air sites for displaced people no longer exist and there has been movement of people from one family to another as they assess the security situation. Families hosting people are under significant pressure and also need support.

The third and the fourth UNHCR relief flights to Osh arrived on Sunday and yesterday, bringing an additional 80 tonnes of humanitarian aid. UNHCR's team in Osh is working with local authorities and partners to set up a more organized system for distribution of relief.

Meanwhile in Uzbekistan, UNHCR is part of a UN humanitarian convoy that will be carrying the remaining stocks of humanitarian aid to Osh. Dozens of trucks carrying this aid are expected to cross into Kyrgyzstan tomorrow (Wednesday 30 June).

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, will be visiting Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday and Thursday. During his stay, the High Commissioner will be meeting with Kyrgyz officials including President Roza Otunbayeva. In southern Kyrgyzstan he will be assessing the situation for IDPs on the ground including humanitarian needs and safety concerns. He wants to ensure that UNHCR is well placed to assist them to rebuild and re-establish their lives safely in their former homes.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

Crisis in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan: You can make a difference

Help UNHCR's relief efforts in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Emergency Response

UNHCR is committed to increasing its ability to respond to complex emergency situations.

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

Findings of surveys commissioned by UNHCR, Bishkek 2009.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

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

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

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

During Sri Lanka's 20-year civil war more than 1 million people were uprooted from their homes or forced to flee, often repeatedly. Many found shelter in UNHCR-supported Open Relief Centers, in government welfare centers or with relatives and friends.

In February 2002, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire accord and began a series of talks aimed at negotiating a lasting peace. By late 2003, more than 300,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their often destroyed towns and villages.

In the midst of these returns, UNHCR provided physical and legal protection to war affected civilians – along with financing a range of special projects to provide new temporary shelter, health and sanitation facilities, various community services, and quick and cheap income generation projects.

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

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.