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Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan: ICRC responds to humanitarian catastrophe

14-06-2010 News Release 108/10

Bishkek/Moscow/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has launched a preliminary emergency appeal for 10 million Swiss francs to assist 100,000 people affected by the brutal violence in southern Kyrgyzstan over the next month.

   
  ©Reuters    
 
  Near Jalal-Kuduk, an Uzbek village, June 14. Ethnic Uzbek civilians who fled the violence in Kyrgyzstan wait to cross into Uzbekistan.    
      

The appeal comes as ethnic clashes, which started in the city of Osh on 10 June, have continued to spread in the south of the country, including to the city of Jalal-Abad, prompting an estimated 80,000 people to flee their homes. More than 100 people have been killed and over 1,200 injured so far, according to Kyrgyz authorities, although the number of confirmed dead is likely to rise when more bodies can be recovered.

The ICRC expects to make food stocks available for around 100,000 people in the coming month. One planeload of emergency medical supplies and body bags was airlifted to Osh on 13 June. Twelve additional flights carrying a cargo of suture equipment, wound dressings and other surgical materials as well as household items, such as jerrycans, buckets and tarpaulins for 20,000 families, are scheduled to arrive in Osh in the coming days. Additional ICRC emergency personnel, including tracing, water and emergency relief specialists, are also on their way. The ICRC is working closely with the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan to distribute urgently needed medical supplies to local hospitals.

" The situation in Jalal-Abad has worsened considerably over the past 24 hours. It is very dangerous, " said ICRC spokesman Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet, who was able to reach the outskirts of the city this morning. " We passed several makeshift checkpoints and men armed with machine guns. Owing to security constraints, we were not able to go further. In Osh, the situation was a little calmer today than in recent days but we have seen many burnt-out homes and cars. Some areas are deserted and we believe many people are staying in their homes because they are too scared to leave. "

According to various reports, wounded and sick patients are not able to reach hospitals for fear of being exposed to violence and medical staff have been attacked while trying to evacuate patients. Five days after the start of the bloodshed, the ICRC is calling on everyone involved to stop the killings, cease the destruction and allow medical workers to do their jobs safely.

    

On the Uzbek side of the border with Kyrgyzstan, the authorities say they have registered 32,000 families as refugees, the majority of whom are women and children. The ICRC was invited by the Uzbek government to take part in a joint visit with other aid agencies to five temporary refugee camps yesterday afternoon in Andijan.

" There seemed to be a number of wounded among the refugees. I saw roughly 40 men with gunshot wounds. Two mothers told me they had lost their children in the chaos, " said François Blancy, the ICRC's deputy head of regional delegation in Tashkent. " People are in a state of shock. Some spoke of homes burning with children inside and the ICRC is clearly worried about the accounts we're hearing of extremely brutal violence. "

Mr Blancy added that the authorities were doing their best to cope with the influx of displaced people, who were being given tents and sleeping mats. The ICRC is working with the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan and the authorities to determine the extent of the refugees'needs and how best to support officials in dealing with the humanitarian catastrophe.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Anna Nelson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 64  

 Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet, ICRC Osh, tel: +996 77 20 22 610  

 Yuriy Shafarenko, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 9 03 545 3534