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UNHCR assisting some 375,000 displaced in southern Kyrgyzstan

Briefing notes

UNHCR assisting some 375,000 displaced in southern Kyrgyzstan

29 June 2010

The situation in southern Kyrgyzstan remained relatively calm over the weekend. Humanitarian access to different parts of Osh, Jalalabad and villages in southern parts of the country is gradually improving.

Over the past few days UNHCR teams have visited several neighbourhoods in Osh, including Margelan Darvaza Mahala in the Kyzyl-Kyshlak area of the city. We have seen widespread destruction in this area, with around 95% of houses having been set on fire. People are still deeply traumatized by the violence of earlier this month.

Many in these neighbourhoods still sleep in the open, often within completely destroyed homes. UNHCR was the first humanitarian team to visit the area. There are no services such as water and electricity. People reported being deprived of health services and many have lost identity documents, either in looting or fires.

It is our estimate that 375,000 people remain still displaced in Kyrgyzstan, including refugees who returned from Uzbekistan. The government reports that more than 10,000 internally displaced people have returned to their homes in Osh, but we are unable to confirm with reliability the remaining numbers of displaced. People are still on the move as they try to assess the security situation. Several former open air sites for displaced people no longer exist and there has been movement of people from one family to another as they assess the security situation. Families hosting people are under significant pressure and also need support.

The third and the fourth UNHCR relief flights to Osh arrived on Sunday and yesterday, bringing an additional 80 tonnes of humanitarian aid. UNHCR's team in Osh is working with local authorities and partners to set up a more organized system for distribution of relief.

Meanwhile in Uzbekistan, UNHCR is part of a UN humanitarian convoy that will be carrying the remaining stocks of humanitarian aid to Osh. Dozens of trucks carrying this aid are expected to cross into Kyrgyzstan tomorrow (Wednesday 30 June).

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, will be visiting Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday and Thursday. During his stay, the High Commissioner will be meeting with Kyrgyz officials including President Roza Otunbayeva. In southern Kyrgyzstan he will be assessing the situation for IDPs on the ground including humanitarian needs and safety concerns. He wants to ensure that UNHCR is well placed to assist them to rebuild and re-establish their lives safely in their former homes.