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Not yet out of the woods

An ethnic Uzbek woman cries as she rides a bus leaving Osh, Kyrgyzstan, the epicentre of the violence that erupted between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks on 10 June UN Photo/AFP
As a 40-day mourning period comes to an end on 20-21 July, security forces have begun taking measures to prevent further unrest, following clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan in June.

Roadblocks on roads in and out of Osh city, where mobs began violent rampages against minority ethnic Uzbeks on 10 June, have been set up to prevent any “troublemakers” entering, Kyrgyz officials said.

However, there are many reports of abuses of power by law enforcement officials, intimidation and arbitrary detentions of ethnic Uzbeks.

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on 20 July that hundreds of Uzbeks were being imprisoned because of their ethnicity and that local authorities were "routinely turning a blind eye" to abuses.

According to the Ministry of Health on 20 July, the official death toll from last month’s violence is 335, although Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Azimbek Beknazarov told local media on 12 July that at least 893 people had been killed. He said the death toll was likely to be higher as many victims’ relatives buried them without reporting it.

The Health Ministry said 1,080 people had been hospitalized (792 in Osh and 289 in Jalal-Abad) and 2,235 had been injured (1,659 in Osh and 666 in Jalal-Abad). Most are now out of hospital.

Aid agencies have said that lack of access to medical care for ethnic Uzbeks continues to be a problem because of threats and the presence of men in military gear at public health facilities.

“The continuing threats and intimidation is leading many citizens, in particular ethnic Uzbeks, to leave or plan to leave the country,” said a 20 July report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

A map of Kyrgyzstan showing who does what where 201007210738500783
Photo: OCHA
Who does what where (See larger version of map)
75,000 displaced

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), some 75,000 people were still displaced on 16 July and in need of shelter assistance. Most have been living with host families but some have stayed in tents or collective centres.

An assessment of internally displaced persons (IDPs) by the World Food Programme completed on 15 July found 83 percent of non-hosted IDPs to be food insecure (63 percent severely), and 43 percent of hosted IDPs to be food insecure (24 percent severely).

The UN’s Shelter Cluster Coordination group, set up on 23 June under the leadership of UNHCR, estimates that some 2,000 households (37,500 individuals) have not returned because of damaged or destroyed homes. Many of these people are now removing the rubble from their homes - previously prohibited by the government - and living with host families nearby.

On 19 July, shelter agencies launched the Transitional Shelter Programme to help these homeless people build new 50-square-metre homes once the clean-up is finished. For up to 1,350 shelters, 68 percent of the total, assistance will be provided in the form of building construction materials. The remaining 650 shelters, 32 percent, will be supported through a cash/voucher scheme.

Designs of the transitional shelters will be verified to ensure that they are in line with the Kyrgyz building code, and the government will then provide each household with an additional basket of construction materials to improve the shelters.

Security has been a major international concern, but there is still no clear international response: The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE's) plan to deploy a small international police force to southern Kyrgyzstan has not been universally well received in Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, several hundred extra Russian troops arrived in Kyrgyzstan in mid-June ostensibly to help protect the Russian base there.


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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