International Rescue Committee Emergency Team Launches Aid Effort in Kyrgyzstan; Says Humanitarian Crisis Requires More International Aid - Press Release
International Rescue Committee emergency experts deployed to southern Kyrgyzstan say thousands of people driven from their homes by recent ethnic violence are in dire need of assistance.
The IRC’s Emergency Response Team is in Osh and surrounding areas—looking at ways to provide assistance in the areas of emergency shelter, water, sanitation and protection for especially vulnerable groups. The IRC is also supporting a partner on the ground by funding deliveries of food, hygiene items and medical supplies.
The IRC team completed a needs assessment in two predominantly Uzbek districts of Osh and say the damage there is devastating and dramatic.
“In the neighborhood of Furkat, all that's left is the skeletal remains of charred and looted houses and other buildings,” says Catherine Jones, emergency protection coordinator with the IRC. “As many as 500 families used to live there, but there’s no trace of them now, nothing worth salvaging and nothing to return to.”
A visit to Cheremushki revealed the targeted nature of the violence. Jones says houses owned by ethnic Russians and Tartars in this neighborhood were untouched, while mostly ethnic Uzbek homes were razed. A Kyrgyz grocery story was left intact, while all other nearby shops were destroyed.
A Russian man living in one of only two houses still standing on a street that he said used to be beautiful and lined with trees, told Jones, “The attackers came down the road like a sea. They looted select houses, loaded what they stole onto trucks and then set the homes on fire.”
Most displaced families fled toward the Uzbek border in the midst of the chaos carrying no belongings or supplies and found refuge in ethnic-Uzbek villages that have little means to support them.
“Everyone we talked to in the Uzbek community asked for food and shelter as well as a neutral security force to restore stability and investigate what happened,” says Ton Hujizer, head of the IRC’s emergency response team in Kyrgyzstan.
Huijzer expressed deep concern about a worsening humanitarian crisis: “We hope the international community will step up with greater levels of assistance and that the Kyrgyz government will create conditions to allow for the rapid delivery of aid and the safe return of the displaced,” he says.
Jones says the long-term needs are also vast. “Whole neighborhoods are beyond repair,” she says. “These communities are going to require significant help to rebuild homes and restore livelihoods, if and when they feel it’s safe enough to return. At the moment, there is incredible fear and mistrust.”
The IRC is raising emergency funds to address critical humanitarian needs in the region. For more information, visit www.theIRC.org
About the International Rescue Committee: A global leader in humanitarian assistance, the International Rescue Committee works in more than 40 countries offering help and hope to refugees and others impacted by violent conflict and disaster. During crises, IRC teams provide health care, shelter, clean water, sanitation, learning programs for children and special aid for women. As emergencies subside, the IRC stays to revive livelihoods and help shattered communities recover and rebuild. Every year, the IRC also helps resettle thousands of refugees admitted into the United States. A tireless advocate for the most vulnerable, the IRC is committed to restoring hope, dignity and opportunity.