Crisis in Kyrgyzstan leaves 300,000 internally displaced

News Stories, 17 June 2010

© REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
A man carries bread as he moves through a crowd of scared ethnic Uzbek civilians waiting to cross the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border.

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, June 17 (UNHCR) Violence in southern Kyrgyzstan has forced an estimated 300,000 people to flee their homes and seek shelter elsewhere in the country. This is in addition to some 100,000 people who have fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan since June 10.

Most of the internally displaced are being sheltered by family and host communities, but some 40,000 people are in need of shelter. The figures for internal displacement have been provided by the Kyrgyz Interim Government and non-governmental organizations on the ground.

The Kyrgyz authorities are trying to restore law and order in the south, where they report that some 180 people have been killed and 1,900 injured.

The situation in the town of Osh and nearby villages appears to be volatile. Sporadic clashes have reportedly taken place around the town of Jalalabad and the situation there is tense. Many families have left Osh and Jalalabad and made their way to Bishkek and other areas, fearing further violence.

UNHCR and other UN humanitarian agencies currently have no access to southern Kyrgyzstan. Despite this absence UNHCR has made available its stocks of relief items to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for distribution to some 10,000 displaced people in Osh.

A UN security assessment in the south is under way today. UNHCR hopes this assessment will allow operations to commence in some areas in Osh by this weekend.

A UNHCR airlift to Kyrgyzstan is scheduled to begin this weekend. Two planes loaded with 80 tonnes of relief from UNHCR's emergency stockpile in Dubai will bring assistance for 15,000 people.

Members of an emergency response team are already in country or en route to Kyrgyzstan. Additional staff are being deployed to help respond to the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, the government of Uzbekistan has been providing assistance and shelter to an estimated 100,000 refugees who have fled the spiralling violence in Kyrgyzstan. The influx has been mainly to Andijan province, where some 80,000 people have arrived since last Friday. The provinces of Fergana and Namangan host some 8,000 and 3,500 people respectively.

Most of the displaced are being accommodated in schools, warehouses and in several sports centres. The newly arrived refugee population in Uzbekistan is in need of additional humanitarian support, including water, food and shelter.

The UNHCR emergency airlift to Uzbekistan has delivered 160 tonnes of aid since the first cargo plane arrived in Andijan on Wednesday. Another two flights to Andijan are scheduled for Friday.