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Chronology of humanitarian and related developments in 2002


TAJIKISTAN 8/1 - Refugees
A spokesman for the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tajikistan dismisses a report saying that thousands of Afghan refugees on the country's border with Afghanistan have gone home. "We visited the area last week and know that the population has remained consistent," Aurvasi Patel, a protection officer for UNHCR in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, told IRIN.

TAJIKISTAN: 10/1 - Emergency relief
Emergency rescue teams are still on the scene two days after a powerful earthquake struck the eastern Rogun area, killing at least three and leaving over 50 people injured. Aid workers on the ground say relief coordination is going well. The quake, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, destroyed or damaged scores of houses.

KAZAKHSTAN: 21/1 - Reconstruction
Astana announces it will contribute towards reconstruction in Afghanistan. According to a document circulated by the Kazakh delegation to the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, the republic will supply 3,000 mt of food aid, and offer its territory for the storage and transit of relief supplies. Kazakhstan will also send experts on farming, transport, irrigation and the gas industry.

UZBEKISTAN: 23 /1 - Health
The ecological disaster caused by the shrinking Aral Sea continues to affect the health of millions of people in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and the northern Uzbek region of
Karakalpakistan. As the sea continues to shrink, the rate of tuberculosis, anaemia, cancer and birth defects have all increased in the area, experts tell IRIN.

UZBEKISTAN: 27/1 - Human rights
Human rights groups criticise a referendum on whether to lengthen the presidential term. "This referendum looks like the farce which we saw once in 1995. Now the situation repeats, Uzbekistan's president wants to extend his authority for the period 2005-2007," Mikhail Ardzinov, Chairman of the Independent Human Rights Organisation of Uzbekistan, tells IRIN from the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.


KAZAKHSTAN: 9/2 - Environment
The implementation of a project to improve the Aral Sea to be funded by the World Bank is ratified by one of the two chambers of the Kazakh parliament. The US $64.5 million project aims to help sustain and increase agriculture, livestock and fish production in the Syr Darya basin and secure the existence of the sea.

Authorities in Uzbekistan register a total of 779 HIV-positive people - a sharp rise in numbers over the last two years. According to official statistics, the first HIV case was registered in 1987.

CENTRAL ASIA: 18/2 - Aid
US Peace Corps volunteers are expected to return to Afghanistan in about three weeks and to other central Asian states soon afterwards to help in reconstruction work, US President George W. Bush announces in Washington.

CENTRAL ASIA: 27/2 - Economy
A Russian conference on the legal status of the Caspian Sea ends with no solution to disputes over the sharing of the waters between Central Asian states and Russia. The Caspian Sea is rich in oil and gas reserves and sturgeon which provides some of the best black caviar in the world.


TAJIKISTAN: 3/3 - Natural disaster
Over 470 houses, about 30 schools and 30 medical facilities are damaged by a powerful earthquake. The mountainous Badakhshoni Kuhi Region in the east and southwestern Khatlon Region suffer most.

TAJIKISTAN: 11/3 - Natural disaster
A giant landslide moves closer to the banks of the Vakhsh river in the west, threatening to submerge a major hydroelectric power plant. The landslide, caused by heavy rainfall and the severe earthquake on 3/3 also threatens to inundate the southern city of Qurghonteppa.

UZBEKISTAN: 14/3 - Bilateral aid
The US and Uzbekistan sign a broad-based agreement on strengthening bilateral relations, which have developed positively since the 11 September events. The agreement, provides for economic, political, legal and humanitarian cooperation, as well as an enhanced security arrangement.

KYRGYZSTAN: 20/3 - Human rights
Activists at home and abroad call for an independent inquiry into recent clashes between police and protesters in the southwestern province of Jalal-abad. The shootings, which left five dead and scores injured, have been viewed by many as yet another example of deteriorating human rights conditions in the country.

TAJIKISTAN: 27/3 - Refugees
At least 2,000 Afghans living on one of the Pyandhz river islands on the border with Afghanistan have gone home. Of the estimated 12,000 Afghans on two islands, all those living on the island known as Site 13 have returned to their home villages in the northern Afghan province of Konduz.


CENTRAL ASIA: 9/4 - Economy
The World Economic Forum's second Eurasia Economic Summit opens in the Kazakh commercial capital, Almaty, bringing together 500 business participants, members of the political establishment from Central Asia, the Caucasus and surrounding areas, as well as academics and the media.

KAZAKHSTAN: 9/4 - Human rights
At least eight opposition supporters are arrested in the commercial capital, Almaty, near the venue of the summit. Meanwhile, Galymzhan Zhakiyanov, a former government member turned critic, and one of the leaders of the Democratic Choice opposition movement, been placed under house arrest last week, is moved to the northern city of Pavlodar. The crackdown on opposition figures is just the latest move in a government campaign manifested earlier this year by the forced closure of a number of the country's independent newspapers and television stations.

UZBEKISTAN: 10/4 Human rights
The US says it regrets the extension of President Karimov's term of office. Parliament has just proclaimed that his term is to be extended by nearly three years, taking a mandated five-year term close to eight years.

TAJIKISTAN: 11/4 - Bilateral aid
The Swiss government announces that it is to triple its aid package to more than $25 million. Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss also said his country would simultaneously double its aid for Kyrgyzstan, bringing it to $10 million.

TAJIKISTAN: 14/4 - Refugees
The last group of Afghans leave the Pyandzh river islands for home.

CENTRAL ASIA 19/4- Economy
World Bank chief James Wolfensohn ends eight-day tour of Central Asia, thereby underscoring the growing international importance of the region following the events of 11 September. During his five-country tour, Wolfensohn called on all Central Asian republics to speed up economic reform, but announced significant loan programmes as an incentive to do so.

UZBEKISTAN: 18/4 - Bilateral aid
In a speech to the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce, Richard Gold, the deputy director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Eurasia office, says USAID is working to expand small businesses, promote the work of regional NGOs and encourage better environmental management in Central Asia. To that end he announces USAID has given Uzbekistan $37 million since 11 September and would request a further $27 million for 2003.

TAJIKISTAN: 19/4 - Health
NGOs complete a measles vaccination campaign in the country initiated after the discovery of 360 suspected cases in the district of Khojamaston, south of Dushanbe.

TURKMENISTAN: 25/4 Afghans going home
Afghan refugees in Turkmenistan - estimated at 6,000 - are beginning to go home at a rate of 50 per month, most of the under the auspices of the UNHCR.

UZBEKISTAN: 23/4 - Women
The parliament considers implementing the 1952 UN Convention on the Political Rights of Women. While Uzbekistan joined the convention in 1997, this is the first time its implementation has been closely scrutinised.

CENTRAL ASIA: 24/4 - Environment
Environmental groups call for vigorous measures to protect the ecosystem of the Caspian Sea as regional leaders tried to work out how to divide the sea's valuable resources at a landmark two-day summit in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat. Large quantities of toxic waste generated by on-shore and off-shore oilfields, refineries and petrochemical plants have polluted the Caspian's shores and coastal waters in many areas, most prominently in Baku Bay.

CENTRAL ASIA: 25/4 - Drugs
In Tokyo, delegates from 35 countries meet to discuss ways of halting the production of opium and heroin in Afghanistan amid warnings from the Russian Federal Border Service that this year's opium crop is expected to exceed 1999's record harvest.

TAJIKISTAN: 21/4 - Natural disaster
Heavy rains cause flooding and landslides in parts of the, killing five children. More than
120 homes are destroyed in the north and electricity supply lines, schools and roads affected in the east.


KAZAKHSTAN: 1/5 - Media freedom
Heinrich Haupt, head of a European security body in Almaty, slams the country for muzzling all critical media. "As a result of restrictive policies taken in the last few months almost all critical media have now been silenced," Haupt, head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Almaty, says in a statement.

UZBEKISTAN: 2/5 - Women
The international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) warns that the government is extending its crackdown against "independent" Muslims to include women. International and local human rights experts estimate 7,000 independent Muslims have already been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for their religious beliefs, affiliations, and practices in the country.

KYRGYZSTAN: 2/5 - Human rights
Felix Kulov, an opposition leader, faces a trial on new charges of embezzlement. Prosecutors ask the court in the capital, Bishkek, to sentence Kulov - a former prime minister considered the strongest political challenger to President Askar Akayev - to 11 years in a high-security prison for embezzling millions of dollars while he was a regional governor and later mayor of Bishkek in the 1990s.

UZBEKISTAN: 2/5 - Bilateral aid
Living conditions in the drought-hit west are set to improve through a water supply project for which the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of $38 million. The project complements a wide-ranging package of initiatives being prepared by the international aid agencies under the government's Aral Sea Drought Relief Programme. The ADB will help in supplying safe water to about 700,000 people.

TAJIKISTAN: 3/5 - Bilateral aid
The EC announces a further $9 million for the drought-stricken country to fund programmes over the next 12 months to supply basic food to 55,000 people, including 15,000 children suffering from malnutrition.

CENTRAL ASIA: 7/5 - Drugs
Kyrgyzstan has more than 5,000 registered drug users, with 68 percent taking opium and heroin, Uzbekistan more than 2,000, with an alarming rise in the use of heroin. Sue Simon, Associate Director of the Open Society Institute's International Harm Reduction Development Programme, says rising addiction in the region could be a harbinger of a wider public health crisis, involving the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases.

CENTRAL ASIA: 8/5 - Water
A regular sitting of the Inter-State Water Management Coordination Commission, comprising Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, is held in Bukhara to discuss the regional water issue. The two-day meeting discusses effective use of the resources of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, inter-state water reservoirs for the needs of national economies of the Central Asia countries, and how to combat water shortages.

KYRGYZSTAN 9/5 - Human rights
Opposition leader, Felix Kulov, is jailed for 10 years for embezzlement. His supporters say it is an attempt to silence him as a rival of President Askar Akayev.

TAJIKISTAN: 13/5 - Natural disaster
Thousands of hectares of farmland in the northern and southern regions could be destroyed this year by locusts unless funding to tackle the problem is made available soon, an official from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) tells IRIN. FAO currently has $30,000 but estimates that between $200,000 to $300,000 will be needed.

KYRGYZSTAN: 14/5 - Natural disaster
Recent landslides in the south threaten to flood nearby areas, including storage sites containing Soviet-era uranium waste, UN and government officials tell IRIN. A landslide started to move in Mayly-Suu city of Jalal-Abad Oblast a few days ago, partially covering the channel of the Mayly-Suu river. This led to the flooding of the Kyrgyzelectroizolit power plant.

KYRGYZSTAN: 15/5 - Democracy & governance
Protesters block the main highway between Bishkek and the southern city of Osh in two separate demonstrations demanding that charges against the opposition parliamentary deputy, Azimbek Beknazarov, be dropped. He is charged with abuse of power.

TURKMENISTAN: 20/5 - Refugees
Of the 14,000 refugees in Turkmenistan today, about 12,000 are Tajik nationals, nearly all of them ethnic Turkmens. Many of them are now seeking to obtain Turkmen nationality, having
fulfilled the necessary criteria.

TURKMENISTAN: 21/5 - Children's health
Despite an earlier infant mortality rate in the country of 34 per live 1,000 births, according to a recent joint government and USAID sponsored survey, the figure now stands at 74.

TAJIKISTAN: 21/5 - Food security
The country will suffer from a food shortage of about 300,000 mt this year despite good rains. "Food supply in Tajikistan has been tight for the past three years, and emergency food aid has been necessary to prevent starvation in some parts of the country," Aziz Arya, an FAO economist, tells IRIN from Rome.

CENTRAL ASIA: 21/5 - Natural disaster
Heavy rains in the last few weeks led to flooding in Central Asia's largest uranium processing plant. The result could be a major ecological disaster for Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. At the head of the Fergana Valley - the breadbasket of Central Asia - elevated slightly above the banks of the swift-flowing Maily-Suu river, the plant, whose estimated output of 2 million cubic metres of radioactive waste represents a potential environmental catastrophe for the region unless it is addressed.

New statistics suggest the number of people living with the disease in the country is growing with reported cases touching 3,000. Specialists estimate that the real number of people infected could reach as much as 10 times the official figure. The most vulnerable category of the population in terms of risks of contracting HIV is young people aged 15-29, Kazakh health authorities say.

UZBEKISTAN 22/5 - Human rights
Human-rights groups criticise the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for planning to hold its annual meeting next year in Tashkent. The groups, including HRW, say the meeting - planned for May 2003 - will bring prestige to the Uzbek government and allow it to hide its poor record on human rights. Around 50 NGOs called on the bank to press the Uzbek government for meaningful improvements in human rights in the 12 months before the meeting.

KYRGYZSTAN: 28/5 - Democracy & governance
The resignation of the Kyrgyz prime minister and his government a week ago in a move to defuse protests over the deaths of demonstrators, detention of opposition politicians, and a controversial border pact with neighbouring China, may have "very serious" implications for the whole Central Asian region, experts say. Prominent analyst Ahmed Rashid maintains that authoritarian Central Asian regimes had used the situation arising after the 11 September events as an opportunity to suppress opposition and political dissent.

As part of the UN's ongoing humanitarian commitment to millions of people inside Afghanistan, Turkmenabad - the country's second-largest city - will continue to play a key role in relief efforts to the country. "Turkmenabad is the most important hub for humanitarian assistance in Central Asia today and will remain so for quite some time," a logistics officer for the World Food Programme (WFP), Abdul Jabbar Bhatti, tells IRIN.

Repairs to a 60-km stretch of road between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan are being delayed due to bureaucracy, according to an official from the WFP, tells IRIN. As part of the UN's ongoing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, the route leading southeast from Turkmenabad towards the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif provides a crucial access link to Afghanistan.


KYRGYZSTAN: 3/6 - Refugees
The first group of Afghan refugees leave Kyrgyzstan for home. The Bishkek office of the UNHCR tells IRIN that this was the first organised repatriation of Afghans from a country that does not share a border with Afghanistan.

KYRGYZSTAN: 5/5 - Environment
Authorities charge four officials with dealing in endangered species, raising fears of widespread corruption. Two snow leopard cubs were found confined in small metal boxes in the boot of a car, ready to be sold for thousands of dollars. The prospective buyers were under-cover agents from the interior ministry.

KAZAKHSTAN: 17/6 - Refugees
The UNHCR confirms the presence in Kazakhstan of about 20,000 refugees from various regions of the Russian Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Asia. "One of the many problems facing refugees in this country is the lack of job opportunities, making them more dependent on international aid, and a burden on Kazakhstan," UNHCR's Abdul Karim Ghoul tells IRIN from Almaty.

UZBEKISTAN: 19/6 - Media freedom
Government officials reject a report by the international watchdog group, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), saying that no positive changes resulted from the government's abolition of press censorship last month. "These are the authoritarian reforms of a dictatorial regime," a CPJ spokesman said in Tashkent.

CENTRAL ASIA: 30/6 - Economy
The World Bank opens a new regional office for Central Asia in Almaty to assist it with development programmes in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, according to a press release. "The World Bank has long understood that sustainable development and poverty reduction are critical to the people of the region," Dennis de Tray, World Bank Director for Central Asia, tells IRIN from Almaty.


CENTRAL ASIA: 3/7 - Health
The international fight against polio led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is being won in Central Asia, IRIN learns. WHO officials tell IRIN that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have been certified polio-free by the world health body.

TAJIKISTAN: 4/7 - Refugees
The UN and other relief agencies coordinate efforts with the Tajik authorities to relocate at least 621 families to a safer place after their villages were hit by flooding and landslides at the end of June. A number of communities in the Ayni District in the northern province of Sughd were affected, prompting the government to decide to move them.

TAJIKISTAN: 4/7 - Health
Some 200 people are hospitalised with suspected typhoid in Khatlon Province following an outbreak in the Bokhtar District. As tests continue on water samples from the area, health experts suspect that the spread of typhoid in the villages was due to contamination of the canal water by a source not yet determined.

Delegates to the 14th International AIDS Conference, in Barcelona, Spain, learn that intravenous drug users are boosting the spread of HIV/AIDS in Central Asia, where prevalence remains low, but the rate of spread is increasing alarmingly. "In spite of the fact that CARs [Central Asian republics] are now considered to be relatively low HIV-prevalence countries, the rate of the spread of HIV is very high," Alexander Kossukhin, programme officer for the joint UN for HIV/AIDS, tells IRIN from Almaty.

KAZAKHSTAN: 10/7 - Media freedom
The editor of an independent newspaper, the Respublika Business Review, which has reported widely on government corruption and human rights violations, is sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison. Tax police had accused Irina Petrushova, a Russian citizen, of working in the country illegally. The newspaper has faced harassment before and its publication was suspended for two months in April.

TAJIKISTAN: 18/7 - Media freedom
A decision to drop legal action against Dodojon Atovulloyev, editor of a Tajik newspaper who is currently living in exile, is met with cautious optimism by the journalist community. "This was the first time that the Tajik government felt intense pressure," Roshan Khadivi, the country director for Internews, a media support group, tells IRIN from Dushanbe.

TAJIKISTAN: 18/7 - Natural disaster
Mudslides continue to drown parts of the north, threatening the lives of hundreds of villagers in Sughd Province, aid workers tell IRIN. "The mountains are not solid. Every time it rains, parts of the mountain turn into mud and slide down," says the programme assistant for the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Dushanbe.

KAZKHSTAN: 19/7 - Aid
The Soros Foundation announces that it invested $25 million in Kazakhstan over the past seven years. Most of the money was invested in the public sector, in education and health care, says Yevgeniy Zhovtis, a senior foundation official. He adds that funding will continue at the same level for at least another eight years.

TAJIKISTAN: 22/7 - Media freedom
The CPJ urges the government to reverse its decision to deny a radio licence to the independent news agency, Asia Plus. Government officials routinely deny independent television and radio stations broadcasting licences, and although 15 independent television stations operate in the republic, most are in the north, far from large population areas and with very limited audiences.

UZBEKISTAN: 23/7 - Health
The ADB, which has stepped up its development loan activity in the region, approves a $1.2 million fund for implementation of a project aimed at preventing illnesses caused by a shortage of iodine and ferriferous substances in Uzbekistan. The ADB loan will help local efforts to produce iodised salt.

KAZAKHSTAN: 24/7 - Democracy and governance
Heinrich Haupt, the outgoing envoy of the OSCE, criticises the government over a new law governing political parties. He says the opposition, which is the main element of democracy, will have difficulties in meeting the requirement that every party must have 50,000 supporters in order to register. The law increasing the minimum number of party members to 50,000 from 3,000, was adopted recently.

A new UN-backed centre for preventing AIDS and drug addiction among young people opens in the eastern town of Andizhan. A report from the health ministry says 75 percent of AIDS sufferers are drug addicts. There are officially estimated to be 18,000 drug addicts in the country.

KAZAKHSTAN: 30/7 - Media freedom
A small band of journalists and human rights activists gather on the steps of Almaty's main court to voice opposition to the proceedings within, where a Kazakh publishing house was ordered to close for violating press laws. Sergei Utkin, lawyer for the publisher, told IRIN the ruling was "purely a political decision," and added that an appeal would be launched against the ruling.


KAZAKHSTAN 4/8 - Human rights
Galymzhan Zhakiyanov, an opposition leader, is jailed for seven years for abuse of office while governor of Pavlodar region. Zhakiyanov founded the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK) movement last November, a new political force advocating democratic freedoms and equal business opportunities for all. The DCK co-founder and ex-energy minister, Mukhtar Ablyazov, was jailed for six years on similar charges last month. The two former officials have dismissed the charges as politically motivated and an attempt to strangle Kazakhstan's opposition movement.

TAJIKISTAN: 8/8 - Emergency relief
Relief efforts continue, one day after a flash flood ripped through the village of Dasht, 524 km east of Dushanbe, killing 28 and rendering hundreds homeless. "There has been an immediate response by the international humanitarian community here," Andrea Recchia, humanitarian affairs officer for OCHA, told IRIN.

KAZKHSTAN: 13/8 - Economy
The World Bank agrees to lend Kazakhstan more than $300 million for seven projects. Water and forestry management, the environment and rural development will be the major spheres of the bank's credit. According to the World Bank, it has so lent Kazakhstan $1.88 billion.

UZBEKISTAN: 22/8 - Bilateral aid
Uzbekistan receives medical supplies and equipment worth $51 million from the US for use in the Fergana Valley region. Ambassador William Taylor, coordinator of US assistance to Europe and Eurasia, delivers the aid personally at a ceremony in Tashkent. The donation comprised equipment worth $16 million from the Defence Department and $35 million worth of medicines and other supplies donated by American pharmaceutical manufacturers and US-based private organisations.

KAZAKHSTAN: 28/8 - Media freedom
A prominent journalist, Sergei Duvanov, is beaten up by three unidentified attackers. Duvanov, 49, is editor-in-chief of the magazine Bulletin of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law. Almaty police have recorded a case against the attackers.

TAJIKISTAN: 28/8 - Media freedom
Dushanbe reverses earlier decision to deny Asia Plus independent news agency a radio licence, following pressure from media groups and the international community. "Issuing the new broadcasting license is an important step for Tajik society," Umed Babakhanov, the director of the Asia Plus, tells IRIN from Dushanbe.

TAJIKISTAN: 29/8 - Health
A typhoid outbreak is reported in Dushanbe. The city's health chief, Nina Kravchenko, says one person had died and 276 were diagnosed with the disease. The outbreak was caused by contaminated food and water.

TAJIKISTAN: 30/8 - Bilateral aid
The EC resumes its assistance project known as TACIS (Technical Assistance to CIS) in Tajikistan. The programme was suspended in 1998 after two French experts were taken hostage by a terrorist group; one died during the rescue operation.

KAZAKHSTAN: 30/8 - Refugees
Thousands of Chechens currently live in Kazakhstan, many under very harsh conditions living on handouts. Lack of employment opportunities and an absence of appropriate accommodation seriously undermine their wellbeing. Their plight has not been helped by the government's reluctance to recognise them as genuine refugees.

CENTRAL ASIA: 30/8 - Environment
An international forum on environment and water resource management, says the Aral Sea requires at least five cubic km of water each year if it is to recover from decades of draining for agricultural purposes. "No further increase in land irrigation should be allowed, and the waters of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers which flow into the sea must be used
rationally," a regional expert, Gulakhmad Kholov, tells participants.


KAZAKHSTAN: 5/9 - Media freedom
Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), a French group protecting the rights of journalists, condemns the attack in August on the prominent journalist, Sergei Duvanov, calling for a full investigation. "We want to know exactly what happened and who is responsible," the head of RSF's European desk, Soria Blatmann, tells IRIN from Paris.

UZBEKISTAN: 10/9 - Border dispute
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, say they have resolved a border dispute, which earlier this year had prompted one Kazakh village to declare independence. "Today we have resolved the issue of the Kazakh-Uzbek border, which stretches 2,400 km," Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is quoted as saying by AFP.

TAJIKISTAN: 12/9 - Bilateral aid
The ADB earmarks a loan of $5.3 million to help avert a disaster following a landslide in the south, a move commended by aid workers. "The amount of work involved and the cost is not something emergency aid agencies can take on unfortunately," the OCHA humanitarian officer, tells IRIN.

UZBEKISTAN: 17/9 - Human rights
A court sentences Yuldash Rasulov, 35, a member of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, activist to seven years in prison for alleged anti-government activity and links to radical Islamic groups. The case has been strongly criticised by human rights watchdogs, which regularly accuse the government of persecution.

TAJIKISTAN: 25/9 - Refugees
Foreign diplomats receive government assurances that there will be no further deportations of Afghan refugees. The pledge follows an incident in September when nine Afghan refugees were expelled. "We are pleased with the response from the government and we hope the remaining Afghan community will be safe," UK ambassador to Tajikistan, Michael Smith, tells IRIN from Dushanbe.

KAZAKHSTAN 25/9 - Media freedom
Adil Soz, a press freedom watchdog, says there were some 700 attacks on journalists and their offices in the first six months of 2002. The organisation believes that press freedom in the country has reached a critical stage with the large-scale closures of newspapers and independent TV and radio channels.

KAZAKHSTAN 26/9 - Environment
Environmental activists protest against a proposed plan to import radioactive nuclear waste. One protest takes place in Semipalatinsk, where the former Soviet Union conducted hundreds of atomic bomb tests. The government believes that the measure will would earn it much-needed cash.

CENTRAL ASIA: 27/9 - Environment
Experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan agree on the text of a nuclear-weapons-free zone treaty in Tashkent. The treaty will provide a starting point for the removal of existing nuclear assets from the region, and also to lay the ground for agreement on nonproliferation.


TAJIKISTAN: 7/10 - Drugs
US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials meet representatives of the Central Asian states in Dushanbe to discuss mechanisms to stop the flow of drugs from Afghanistan. Tajik authorities believe that some 60 laboratories in northern Afghanistan bordering their country produce about 40 kg of heroin daily. Most of the drugs produced in Afghanistan are carried via Tajikistan to Russia and western Europe.

TAJIKISTAN: 16/10 - Peace and security
The OSCE is helping to defuse tensions in Sughd Province, particularly in Isfara District, between the secular authorities and Tajik Islamists, who have been partners in government since the end of the civil war in 1997. "We are maintaining contacts with and facilitating dialogue and confidence-building between the political forces in the country," Marc Gilbert, the head of the OSCE in Tajikistan, tells IRIN from Dushanbe.

KAZAKHSTAN: 23/10 - Agricultural reform
Nazarbayev endorses a new law allowing private land ownership in the country. Under the law some 273 million hectares could end up in private ownership. The move is expected to improve the rural economy and increase revenues for the government.

KYRGYZSTAN: 29/10 - Environment
The Global Mountain Summit closes in Bishkek. Over 600 people from 60 countries came together for four days, in what was the first-ever meeting of its kind. It also led to important donor
pledges for mountain-development programmes in Central Asia. The summit was organised by the government of Kyrgyzstan, with support from the United Nations Environment Programme and others.

KYRGYZSTAN: 29/10 - Democracy & governance
Hundreds of people take to the streets in the south to protest against the exclusion of an opposition candidate from a run-off parliamentary election. Usen Sadykov received 46 percent of the vote during the election on 20 October, but was disqualified from the run-off on 3 November after a court ruled that his documents were not in order.


TAJIKISTAN: 4/11 - Aid route
Humanitarian workers welcome the opening of a bridge providing a new route for vehicles carrying aid and goods in and out of war-ravaged Afghanistan. The bridge, opened by Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov and Prince Aga Khan IV, leader of the Shi'ite Ismaili Muslims, is the first vehicle bridge to span the Pyandzh river between the two countries.

KAZAKHSTAN: 7/11 - Human rights
Prosecutors in Kazakhstan formally file rape charges against leading independent journalist Sergei Duvanov. His supporters insist he is the victim of a government conspiracy to prevent him from reporting allegedly corrupt administration practices. Duvanov, continues a hunger strike that has left him unable to walk or stand.

KAZAKHSTAN: 10/11 - Refugees
More than 300 Chechen refugee families appeal to Nazarbayev for political asylum. In their letter they noted Kazakhs' assistance to Chechens during the deportations under Stalin and the persecution of Chechens not only in their motherland but all over Russia, which has become more evident since armed Chechen militants took some 700 people hostage in a Moscow theatre on 23 October.

TAJIKISTAN: 13/11 - Human rights
A human rights information centre opens in Dushanbe. The German-government funded office is a branch of the UN Tajikistan Office on Peace-Building. The centre, implemented with the help of the UN Development Programme, will promote the observance of human rights in the country, first of all through disseminating information and holding seminars for state organisations and NGOs.

KYRGYZSTAN: 14/11 - Democracy & governance
Hundreds of protesters gather on the outskirts of Bishkek demanding the resignation of the president. The group wants to see the prosecution of officials responsible for the violent
break-up of a demonstration in the impoverished southern region of Aksu in March, in which five people were killed. They also demand that their candidate for parliament be permitted to compete in elections.

Experts estimate the total number of HIV-positive people in Central Asia to number over 50,000, and about half of them live in Kazakhstan. The information is made public at an international conference on HIV/AIDS in Almaty.

TAJIKISTAN: 19/11 - Donor appeal
The UN launches its Consolidated Appeal for Tajikistan for humanitarian assistance in 2003. Tajikistan is the poorest of the former Soviet republics and continues to face a precarious and complex humanitarian situation.

TURKMENISTAN: 27/11 - Human rights
Amnesty International calls on Ashgabat for justice, not revenge, following an alleged plot to assassinate President Saparmurad Niyazov on 25 November. The country has a poor human rights record, and the watchdog group is concerned of a possible crackdown.


TAJIKISTAN: 4/12 - Bilateral aid
The ADB announces that it plans to lend the country $120 million between 2003 and 2005, with an additional $10 million in grants and technical aid. According to an agreement signed between the ADB and the Tajik authorities, the money will be spent primarily on poverty reduction programmes over the next 13 years.

UZBEKISTAN: 4/12 - Human rights
HRW calls on the international community to condemn the recent sentencing to death of Iskandar Khudoiberganov for propagating religious extremism. "This decision shows that the Uzbek authorities are not taking the issue of torture seriously," Matilda Bogner, HRW office director in Tashkent, tells IRIN.

UZBEKISTAN: 6/12 - Human rights
Theo van Boven, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the question of torture, completes a two-week fact-finding mission in Uzbekistan, where he met many alleged victims of torture, as well as government and NGO representatives.

CENTRAL ASIA: 9/12 - Peace and security
The International Crisis Group (ICG), a leading independent international body working for conflict prevention, urges Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to expedite police reforms in order to achieve the kind of security required for peaceful economic and political development.

TAJIKISTAN: 11/12 - Bilateral aid
The IMF approves a three-year $87-million loan under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility for the country.

TAJIKISTAN: 14/12 - Bilateral aid
Under a wide range of bilateral and multilateral regional projects for humanitarian assistance, developmental aid and trade cooperation, the EU steps up its assistance to country following the second joint committee meeting in the capital Dushanbe.

TURKMENISTAN: 25/12 - Human rights
Turkmenistan's harsh crackdown on opposition figures in the ongoing probe of the alleged assassination attempt on Niyazov in November draws sharp criticism from Washington and human rights groups.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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