Kyrgyzstan: UN says 75,000 still displaced one month after clashes

This woman who was displaced by the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan returned to find her house badly damaged

16 July 2010 – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that some 75,000 people are still displaced one month after the deadly clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan, which uprooted nearly 400,000 people and sent many fleeing to neighbouring Uzbekistan.

In the southern Kyrgyz cities of Osh and Jalalabad, where violence erupted last month, the situation is calm, but agency spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva that there are dozens of police checkpoints. The two cities also remain under a strict evening curfew.

“This in turn is preventing difficulties for people without personal papers, and there are frequent allegations of police harassment,” she added.

In recent weeks, UNHCR and its partners have interviewed thousands of people as it carries out monitoring and shelter surveys.

“At the peak of this crisis, we estimated that 400,000 people were affected,” Ms. Fleming said.

Currently, 75,000 people – including those who are afraid to return or cannot because their homes have been destroyed – still need shelter assistance.

The loss of personal papers, including birth certificates, passports and documents proving ownership of land, is proving to be debilitating, UNHCR said.

For example, in the Furkat district of Osh, the agency saw a family of 12 who had lost all of their paperwork when they fled their home early last month. They are now having difficulty applying for new papers, with nothing to confirm their identities.

“Such problems are widespread,” Ms. Fleming noted.

UNHCR and its partners are counseling people on their rights and on procedures for procuring documentation, as well as discussing how to enhance the reissuing of documents with the State Registration Service.

Most people are working to rehabilitate their own homes, but the work is substantial and help from the Government and the international community is critical, the agency said.

UNHCR has reached an agreement with Kyrgyz authorities on the immediate reconstruction of 550 homes in Jalalabad and Osh, and the agency is also supporting the building in time for the start of winter of two warm rooms of up to 50 square metres for families whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

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