Kyrgyzstan: nine days after clashes, health and protection concerns remain

16-04-2010 Operational Update

Relative calm has returned to Bishkek but the overall situation remains tense. While the most urgent humanitarian needs of the affected population, particularly medical and surgical ones, have by now been covered, the ICRC continues to give a special attention to people wounded during the clashes, including members of the police and security forces.

" Anyone, including members of the police and security forces, wounded or arrested during events of the recent days must be cared for and protected, " said Claudia Azzolini, head of the ICRC mission in Kyrgyzstan. " In terms of our own action, we are now discussing how the ICRC will work with the newly established authorities on core humanitarian issues. Regarding our humanitarian visits to detainees in the country, we are confident that we will resume them in the near future. "

Many people wounded during the unrest continue to be treated at hospitals and ICRC health specialists working closely with local authorities confirm that over 100 wounded people will require surgery and long-term medical treatment. According to the latest figures issued by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health, 84 people were killed and 1,648 injured between the 6 and 7 April.

Humanitarian aid  

" Local hospitals were overwhelmed by a massive influx of casualties following the events of 7 April. We supplied three of them with dressing materials, antibiotics and emergency surgical equipment " , said Marco Baldan, the ICRC's chief surgeon, currently in Bishkek. " Subsequently, we managed to deliver emergency medical aid to other hospitals in Bishkek as well as in Talas, Tokmok, Osh and Jalalabad. " Dr. Baldan,also held meetings with the Ministry of Health to evaluate medical needs. A one-day course on the essential principles and protocols of surgery for gun-shot wounds has been planned for the coming days for some 100 health professionals.

The ICRC, together with the Kyrg yz Red Crescent, has provided support for a total of 16 health-care facilities throughout the country, including Bishkek's three main referral hospitals and the blood collection centre since 7 April. Over 750 people have received treatment in ICRC-supported facilities.

On 10 April, an ICRC aircraft arriving from the organization's logistics base in Peshawar, Pakistan, delivered over a tonne of medical and mortuary supplies to complement items already supplied by Kyrgyz hospitals with support from the ICRC and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Earlier in the week, personnel from the ICRC and the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan, including health-care specialists, assessed the humanitarian situation in Talas, in the north of the country. They delivered aid to four medical centres in the city. 

Restoring family links  

ICRC and Kyrgyz Red Crescent staff have jointly located over 20 wounded persons in Bishkek whose whereabouts were not known to their families. In addition, tracing specialists have arranged for a number of phone calls to be made between relatives and have reunited two previously dispersed families. ICRC Delegates and Red Crescent staff also helped local mortuary authorities to identify two dead bodies. 

Protection and health matters in detention  

The ICRC is currently establishing contacts with the new authorities in order to carry on with its humanitarian activities in places of detention, to get access to all detainees, including those arrested in relation with the internal disturbances.

The ICRC has been visiting detainees held in Kyrgyzstan since 1999 to assess their prison conditions and the manner in which they are treated Together with the relevant Kyrgyz authorities and o ther organizations, the ICRC has been working, since 2004, to control the spread of tuberculosis in places of detention in the country. A medical programme to treat patients with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in places of detention was launched in 2007 and centres on a penitentiary colony refurbished as a hospital for detainees suffering from tuberculosis.

The ICRC has reinforced its permanent setup of 30 staff in Kyrgyzstan to 44, including 19 expatriates, in view of the recent events and continuing tensions.

For further details, please contact:
  Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet, ICRC Bishkek, tel.: +996 700 759 793
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26