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July 1, 10

NEWS / UN continues rushing food aid to Kyrgyzstan

1 July 2010 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is continuing to distribute supplies to people who have been affected by the recent deadly ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan.

According to the agency, nearly all of the 75,000 ethnic Uzbeks who fled across the border to Uzbekistan after violence erupted in the Kyrgyz towns of Osh and Jalalabad have returned. Many are sheltering in camps or staying with host families since their homes have been destroyed.

So far, WFP has reached 270,000 people uprooted by the violence which broke out three weeks ago with food supplies.

WFP handed out rations today to some 6,300 people in the central market area of Osh. The agency’s staff members reported that the market was open and crowded, with signs pointing to life starting to return to normal.

Yesterday, a 28-truck UN aid convoy crossed from Uzbekistan into Kyrgyzstan, where it was met by UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and Daly Belgasmi, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East and Central Asia.

Eight of the trucks were loaded with 150 metric tons of WFP food – including wheat flour, vegetable oil, pulses and beans – which will be distributed to internally displaced persons (IDPs), returning refugees and others.

WFP has called for some $23 million as part of a greater joint UN appeal for more than $70 million to assist those affected by the clashes.

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.

“The world was taken by surprise with Kyrgyzstan, we must not be taken by surprise again,” Mr. Guterres told reporters yesterday at a site for returned refugees and IDPs in the country’s south.

“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.




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