International Rescue Committee Emergency Response Experts Arrive in Kyrgyzstan
International Rescue Committee emergency response experts are now in Kyrgyzstan to join efforts to aid thousands of people uprooted by ethnic violence and in dire need of assistance.
The IRC team includes experienced emergency responders who will look at providing assistance in areas such as emergency shelter, water, sanitation, relief supplies and food, says Gillian Dunn, who oversees the IRC’s global emergency response programs. “Our emergency protection specialist will also focus on the needs of especially vulnerable groups – including the elderly, children and victims of violence and assault,” says Dunn.
Meanwhile, the IRC has provided funding for emergency supplies to a partner on the ground, who has begun delivering food, hygiene and sanitary items, antiseptics and other medical supplies to hospitals.
The U.N. refugee agency estimates that 300,000 people are displaced in Kyrgyzstan after an explosion of violence, slaughter and destruction that erupted just over a week ago -- largely carried out by Kyrgyz gangs against minority ethnic Uzbeks. Another 100,000 refugees have reportedly fled into Uzbekistan for safety.
The majority of the displaced are said to be women, children and the elderly. Many of the men have stayed behind to safeguard their homes and belongings and have barricaded their neighborhoods to avert further attacks.
“While the violence seems to have declined for now, the humanitarian crisis could grow if we don’t act quickly,” says Dunn. “There’s no sign that the tens of thousands of people who are sheltering in border villages or who fled into Uzbekistan are going to return home anytime soon. Most are too afraid. They urgently need aid and protection.”
The IRC is raising emergency funds to address critical humanitarian needs in the region.
Melissa Winkler, melissa.winkler@theIRC.org, 1 212 551 0972 or 1 646 734 0305