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Kyrgyzstan: ICRC steps up humanitarian response amid continuing tension

14-07-2010 News Release 10/131

Geneva (ICRC) – Following the violent inter-ethnic clashes that erupted in the south of Kyrgyzstan last June, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is appealing to its donors for an additional 26,938,142 Swiss francs for its Central Asian budget, bringing the total budget for its activities in the region in 2010 to Sfr 37,445,974 (approximately 35.5 million US dollars).

  The ICRC helped this family, caught without travel documents in Osh, on the Kyrgz side of the border, when the troubles started, return to Uzbekistan.    
  Drinking water point set up by the ICRC in Suratash village along border with Uzbekistan.    
  In this neighbourhood of Osh, residents say that 135 of the 418 houses were burned.    

More photos on Flickr: Kyrgyzstan: lives disrupted

  Read also: Uzbekistan: Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement assists Kyrgyz refugees

Immediately after the unrest began in the southern city of Osh, the ICRC and the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan stepped up their humanitarian operation, which gave priority to responding to the needs of wounded, sick and particularly vulnerable people, such as those internally displaced (IDPs) and those whose houses were destroyed.

" Tensions do not disappear from one day to the next. There is still deep mistrust between communities, " said Nadine Bague, the ICRC's deputy head of operations for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. " Because of the major operation we mounted in Kyrgyzstan, we now have direct contact with affected communities and local authorities, which enables us to monitor the situation of civilians and to better adapt our response to remaining emergency needs even as we begin to address the tasks of early recovery. "

The ICRC's activities will mainly focus on continuing to assist affected communities in their area of residence, internally displaced people and host families. The organization also seeks to gain access to all persons detained, in particular those arrested in connection with the violence, and to help families to find out what happened to their loved ones who went missing.

" The issue of missing people is a source of increased tension. Amid rumours of hostage-taking, clarifying the fate of those who have disappeared is not only of the utmost importance for the families concerned but can also help defuse tensions, " said Ms Bague. " Boosting the capacity of local forensic services to identify recovered bodies or remains is one of the steps that needs to be taken immediately. "

During the coming months, the ICRC will also seek to reinforce the emergency response capacity of the health authorities and the Kyrgyz Red Crescent. Dialogue with and support for law-enforcement agencies will also be stepped up with a view to ensuring that international standards relating to the use of force in situations of internal violence are complied with.

The ICRC has enhanced its presence in Kyrgyzstan where, in addition to its office in Bishkek, it now has representations in Osh and Jalalabad. ICRC staff working in the south of the country are focusing their efforts on the violence-affected zone in Osh and Jalalabad provinces.

To date, the ICRC has distributed two-week rations of flour and oil to over a quarter million people, and essential household items to more than 45,000 people. Thanks to the installation of water tanks, the use of water trucking and other quick solutions, some 15,500 people also have improved access to clean water and, as a result, better hygiene conditions.

The ICRC has been working in Kyrgyzstan since 1999, visiting detainees and supporting the fight against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in the penitentiary system, raising awareness of international humanitarian law and other humanitarian norms, and providing technical and financial support for the Kyrgyz Red Crescent.

It currently has 36 expatriate and 84 locally recruited staff working in various parts of the country.

For further information, please contact:
  Séverine Chappaz, ICRC Bishkek, tel: +996 772 00 76 77
  Aygul Shafigulina, ICRC Tashkent, tel: +998 71 120 52 90 or +998 93 500 42 05
  Yuriy Shafarenko, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 9 03 545 3534
  Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 82 or +41 79 217 32 80