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June 30, 10

NEWS / UN refugee chief urges sustained support for Kyrgyzstans displaced

30 June 2010 – The top United Nations refugee official today urged the international community not to forget the plight of the thousands of civilians uprooted by the recent violence in Kyrgyzstan, as he continued his visit to the Central Asian nation.

António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, highlighted the difficulties for those left homeless or living in fear of further unrest, as well as those who now have to rebuild their lives following the clashes that erupted between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan in mid-June.

“The world was taken by surprise with Kyrgyzstan, we must not be taken by surprise again,” Mr. Guterres told reporters at a site for returned refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“Entire communities here have been left fractured and embittered. Immediate and sustained humanitarian help is needed to avert a dangerous expansion of grievance and loss,” he added.

The clashes, the latest unrest to hit the country following the violent uprising in April that ousted former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, displaced at least 300,000 people within Kyrgyzstan and sent an estimated 100,000 others across the border to neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Many of the displaced began to return to their places of origin last week. UNHCR, the agency headed by Mr. Guterres, estimates that 375,000 people remained displaced, including the refugees who returned from Uzbekistan.

Therefore, the focus of aid efforts has now shifted to the displaced populations in and around the cities of Osh and Jalalabad, which were the areas hardest hit by the unrest. UNHCR teams that visited several neighbourhoods in Osh have reported widespread destruction of homes with many people sleeping in the open. Water, electricity and health services are among the most urgent needs.

UNHCR has rushed hundreds of tonnes of emergency relief into both countries, including jerry cans, plastic sheets, kitchen sets and blankets.

While in Osh yesterday Mr. Guterres received the first convoy of some 20 trucks at the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border carrying UN aid materials back across the border and not needed anymore in Uzbekistan.




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