Kyrgyzstan: UNHCR needs US$23 million to shelter, protect displaced

News Stories, 27 July 2010

© UNHCR/S.Schulman
Still suffering: Some 75,000 displaced people, like this family whose home was destroyed in Bazar Korgon in Jalalabad province in eastern Kyrgyzstan in June, will depend on UNHCR for shelter to make it through winter.

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 27 (UNHCR) Calling on Kyrgyz authorities to improve return conditions for some 75,000 internally displaced people, the UN refugee agency appealed on Monday for US$23 million for emergency shelter and protection projects in southern Kyrgyzstan.

"Fresh funds will allow us to continue our protection, legal and humanitarian assistance to the affected population until the end of the year," UNHCR Chief Spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva. "These activities include restoration of important identification, civil status and property documents as well as free legal counseling."

UNHCR's appeal is part of the UN Kyrgyzstan flash appeal of US$ 96.4 million launched in Bishkek. Violence in southern Kyrgyzstan in June uprooted 400,000 people. The 100,000 who fled to neighboring Uzbekistan have since returned home, but 75,000 of the 300,000 who scattered within their own country still remain displaced.

Every day UNHCR teams in Osh and Jalabad visit displaced people who complain of detention, harassment and difficulties in getting basic medical services, electricity and garbage and sewage service. The UN refugee agency hears the same messages on its 24-hour hotline.

"We need food, clothes and other things urgently," an elderly woman told UNHCR protection officers in Osh. "We are waiting for something to happen but have not seen results yet. The government has not come to see us yet and we don't know if there's any plan to reconstruct our houses."

UNHCR, working with partners, counsels people on their rights as well as on procedures for restoring lost or destroyed personal documentation, and assists Kyrgyz authorities to enhance its capacity to issue new documents.

"We are encouraged by recent government decisions to establish mobile teams to visit and assist the communities which were affected by June violence and to waive the fee for issuing temporary ID cards," spokesperson Fleming said in Geneva.

Displaced people hope to replace lost single-family homes with similar buildings that reflect their customs and lifestyle rather than accept apartments in multi-storey buildings the government proposes to build. Above all, they want a real home before winter sets in three months from now, bringing temperatures of minus 25° Celsius.

"UNHCR advocates for a stable and sustainable return," Fleming said. "We welcome the recent statement of the President Rosa Otunbaeva calling for a possibility for the affected population to opt for either a new apartment or for the reconstruction of their destroyed home."