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Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan: water and food distributed amidst lingering tension

18-06-2010 News Release 113/10

Geneva/Bishkek/Tashkent/Moscow (ICRC) – Although a state of relative calm has prevailed over the last two days, the situation remains tense and worrying, and not only in southern Kyrgyzstan.

  ©ICRC/L. Wisner/kg-e-00040    
Trucking and distribution of drinking water to displaced people in the village of Sura Tash. Sura Tash is located close to the border with Uzbekistan near Osh, Kyrgyzstan.    
  ©ICRC/P.-E. Ducruet/kg-e-00039    
ICRC plane unloading medical aid at the airport in Osh.    
  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/kg-e-00041    
Kyrgyzstan, town of Osh. Distribution of wheat flour and sunflower oil. A Kyrgystan Red Crescent officer helps with the distribution.    

The ICRC has started distributing water and food in response to the urgent needs of tens of thousands of internally displaced persons.

" This crisis seems far from over and we stand ready to respond to all potential humanitarian needs. We do not see any signs of the imminent return of the tens of thousands of persons who have been displaced, " said Pascale Meige Wagner, the ICRC's head of operations for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Since yesterday, the ICRC has distributed 12,000 litres of water to about 15,000 people gathered in Sura Tash.

" There are no words to describe the reception given to the water trucks. People here had spent more than three days without access to drinkable water. The distribution of water will be increased and extended to other areas in the coming days, " said Angelina Adler, a water engineer with the ICRC.

Together with volunteers from the Kyrgyz Red Crescent, the ICRC also distributed food in Osh city and along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in Osh province: about 15,000 people received two weeks'rations of wheat flour and oil, which would allow them to bake Lipioshka , a traditional bread.

In Uzbekistan, an ICRC team together with the Uzbek Red Crescent, first on the scene, has begun to assess the needs of over 100,000 refugees who have gathered in Andijan, Fergana and Namangan, close to the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border.

" The people who crossed the border, most of them women and children, need sanitary and hygiene materials in addition to food and shelter. Many people also said that they had difficulties in contacting loved ones who had remained in Kyrgyzstan, " said Kapil Sharma, an ICRC doctor in Andijan. He was also able to start assessing the situation of the wounded in medical facilities.

Besides continuing to aid the refugees, the ICRC is also working on restoring communication between families separated by the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border.

An ICRC plane – the second in two days - landed in Andijan this morning, carrying relief materials: 1300 hygiene kits, 1300 kitchen sets and 1300 jerrycans. This will enable the ICRC and its Red Cross and Red Crescent partners to add to the support being provided for the Uzbek authorities as they attempt to deal with this major refugee crisis. Another plane loaded with humanitarian relief is expected to reach Andijan this coming Sunday.

For further information, please contact:
  Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02
  Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet, ICRC Osh, tel: +996 77 20 22 610
  Yuriy Shafarenko, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 9 03 545 3534