75,000 people still displaced in southern Kyrgyzstan, one month on

Briefing Notes, 16 July 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 16 July 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

A month after the crisis in southern Kyrgyzstan, UNHCR estimates that some 75,000 people there are still displaced. Thousands continue to be affected by uncertain security, problems arising from the wide loss of personal documents, and a shortage of shelter.

In Osh and Jalalabad the situation is calm, but there are nonetheless scores of police check-points, and the two cities remain under night-time curfew. This in turn is presenting difficulties for people without personal papers, and there are frequent allegations of police harassment.

Over the past weeks, UNHCR and its partners have been carrying out monitoring and shelter surveys, interviewing thousands of people. At the peak of this crisis we estimated that 400,000 people were affected. Today, the number of displaced persons still requiring help with shelter is 75,000 this includes people either afraid to return or unable to do so because their homes have been destroyed.

The loss of personal papers for example, birth certificates, passports, ID cards, and documents showing legal ownership of land or houses is proving to be debilitating. In Furkat district of Osh, UNHCR staff saw a family of 12 persons who had lost their entire paperwork while fleeing their home in the early morning of 11th June. With nothing to confirm their identities they face problems even in applying for new papers. Such problems are widespread.

UNHCR and its NGO partners are visiting communities to counsel people on their rights and on procedures for restoring documentation. We are also discussing with the State Registration Service ways to enhance capacity to reissue documents, such as establishing mobile teams to visit affected communities.

With shelter needs, most people are hoping to rehabilitate their own homes. Skills exist in the community to do this, but the amount of work is substantial and assistance from the Government and the international community is vital.

UNHCR has agreed with the authorities to immediately start rehabilitation and reconstruction of some 550 houses 500 in Jalalabad and 50 in the Madi and Aravan districts of Osh province. UNHCR is supporting construction of two warm rooms of up to 50 square metres for families whose houses were recently damaged or destroyed. The aim is to have this work done before the onset of winter.

• 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.

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.