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Kazakh state television announced on Monday that, according to current estimates, floods have inflicted damage worth more than US $ 4.6 million in the southern Kyzylorda Region, quoting regional governor, Ikram Adyrbekov. Over 80 houses and 6,835 ha of farmland have been flooded. The floods killed hundreds of livestock and destroyed hydro technical facilities and roads, but there was no loss of life or reported injuries. Power and telecommunications lines were also damaged.

The mayor of Kyzlorda said that a state of emergency had been declared in the Zhanakorgan, Shiyeli, Syrdariya and Zhalagash Districts and 30,000 people had been evacuated to safe areas. Floods are now expected in the districts located in the lower reaches of the Syr Darya river. Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Bolat Zhanasayev said that emergency personnel would be monitoring ice floes in the river until they reach the Aral Sea.

In Tajikistan, ongoing bad weather led to the death of at least one person in a mudslide that hit a section of the Dushanbe-Khujand road that links the country's north with its centre, the press service of the Tajik Ministry of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence told the local Avesta news agency on Monday. The source said the mudslide occurred on the Shahrinav mountain pass a day earlier and that a truck driver was killed when the mass of earth poured down on to the road.

A Kazakh prosecutor has ordered checks on more than 30 Kazakh NGOs and missions of foreign and international organisations, rights activist Yevgeniy Zhovtis said in an interview with the Kazakh newspaper Respublika. He said that two staff members of the Almaty city prosecutor's office and a police inspector had visited his office of the International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (IBHRRL) and presented the city prosecutor's order to conduct checks.

"Authorities assume after the Georgian, Ukrainian transitions and other events, that the United States is supporting revolutionary activities through non-governmental organisations," Zhovtis, IBHRRL director, told a Monday press conference in the commercial capital, Almaty, IINTERFAX reported.

He said that city prosecutors are inspecting 33 NGOs, including his bureau, the US Red Cross, Internews, Mercy Corps International and the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). He said the prosecutors had demanded the charter and financial documents of the organisation, grant agreements, publications and even "lists of participants in our seminars and conferences".

The Russian Human Rights Center "Memorial" said on Wednesday that Turkmen authorities have expelled a Russian journalist who was working in the Central Asian nation. Memorial said journalist Viktor Panov of RIA-Novosti was taken to the airport in Ashgabat in handcuffs on 24 February and put a plane bound for Russia. Turkmenistan's security service held Panov for 15 days before expelling him.

Memorial did not give any reason why Panov was expelled, but Associated Press cited an unnamed Turkmen Foreign Ministry official as saying Panov was expelled for spying for Russia. Oleg Panfilov, the head of the Russian Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, told RFE/RL's Turkmen service that expelling foreign journalists is common practice in Turkmenistan. "The country is in strict self-isolation and all activities of the Turkmen authorities resemble the actions of the most authoritarian regimes, such as North Korea and Cuba," Panfilov said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Uzbekistan to ease trade regulations and reform its agricultural and banking sectors, according to AP, quoting an official news report on Tuesday. The IMF recommended that the Uzbek government speed up privatisation of banks and liberalise the agriculture sector, according to a joint IMF-Uzbek government statement published by Narodnoye Slovo newspaper.

The statement followed two weeks of consultations between a visiting IMF mission and senior Uzbek officials. The IMF praised Uzbekistan for achieving 7.5 percent economic growth in 2004, increasing its gold and currency reserves by 30 percent and posting a positive trade balance of US $1 billion during the year.

The IMF left Uzbekistan in 2001, saying the government's refusal to make the national currency, the som, convertible encouraged black market currency trading and hampered foreign investment. The IMF returned in 2002 under strong pressure from the United States.

In health news, the World Bank has allocated US $ 25m dollars to Central Asian states for combating AIDS, the bank's website announced on Wednesday. The project aims to minimise the human and economic impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in four Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Infection rates have risen dramatically in Central Asia over the past four years, with officially reported cases jumping from about 500 in 2000 to over 12,000 in 2004. Unreported cases are thought to be much larger; the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Central Asia estimates that some 90,000 people in the sub-region are living with HIV/AIDS. The epidemic is driven by injecting drug use and affects mainly young people.


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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