A year on, southern Kyrgyzstan still plagued by displacement, lack of trust
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Sybella Wilkes – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Tens of thousands of people are still displaced in southern Kyrgyzstan a year after deadly clashes there. UNHCR believes that confidence-building efforts need strengthening to ensure sustainable returns and genuine reconciliation.
More than 400 people were killed and 375,000 others were forced to flee their homes when communal violence hit southern Kyrgyzstan between June 10 and 14 last year, mainly in Osh and Jalalabad. Of those displaced, some 75,000 fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan while 300,000 were uprooted within Kyrgyzstan. More than 2,000 homes were destroyed and many more were looted.
Most of those uprooted were able to soon return to their places of origin. However, about 60,000 people are still scattered across Kyrgyzstan and abroad today. Some say their houses were damaged, others cite security concerns, or a lack of living space and jobs back home. An additional 20,000 people are living with host families.
Within 100 days of last summer's events, UNHCR had helped to build emergency transitional shelters for more than 13,400 people whose homes were destroyed. Last winter, we also distributed tons of coal, warm clothing and relief items to 21,000 people to help them through six months of cold weather.
People are slowly picking up their lives, but further improvements in security and the economy are needed for life to return to normal. We hear repeatedly from different individuals that even today there is distrust of the local authorities. There is still a certain degree of suspicion between communities, and the most affected groups are not yet fully ready for reconciliation. UNHCR teams are working in 50 locations across Osh and Jalalabad to monitor the situation and discuss and seek solutions for emerging issues with the communities and authorities.
UNHCR runs a round-the-clock toll-free hotline that receives about 100 calls a week. Callers are mostly concerned about the delivery of assistance, counseling about property and legal rights, access to public services, security issues and how to restore businesses and employment.
Today, UNHCR and our partners continue to assist some 280,000 people in Osh and Jalalabad affected by last June's events. We are funding mobile teams to help them restore identity and property documents that were lost or damaged in last year's violence.
Longer-term, there is a need to restore communication and rebuild confidence between communities and authorities to facilitate reconciliation and lasting peace. We have been promoting dialogue and cooperation between different groups through joint project and activities. UNHCR is also focusing on the legal and socio-economic needs of affected people, with special attention to the vulnerable and those with specific needs. We have started quick impact projects to rehabilitate small infrastructure, generate income and build peace.
UNHCR is currently seeking US$ 5.4 million from donors to implement these activities. We have received just over half of the $11.4 million we need for our work in Kyrgyzstan this year.
Media representatives interested in an accompanying UNHCR video to this story may access it via the following link http://unhcr.org/v-4df1cc736
(An international version of the video is also available on request)
For further information on this topic, please contact:
- In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Natalia Prokopchuk on mobile +996 77 598 4224
- In Geneva: Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106