75,000 people still displaced in Kyrgyzstan one month on from violence

News Stories, 16 July 2010

© UNHCR/S.Schulman
This woman was displaced by the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. She returned to find her house badly damaged.

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, July 16 (UNHCR) A month after violence forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes 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.

The situation is calm in Osh and Jalalabad, but there are scores of police checkpoints 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, UNHCR estimated that 400,000 people were affected. Today, the number of displaced people still requiring help with shelter is 75,000, including people either afraid to return or unable to do so because their homes have been destroyed.

The loss of personal papers, such as 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 who had lost their paperwork while fleeing their home on June 11. 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. The refugee agency is 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 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 550 houses 500 in Jalalabad and 50 in the Madi and Aravan districts of Osh province. UNHCR is supporting construction of two heated 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.




UNHCR country pages

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.

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

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