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Kyrgyzstan remains tense as UN calls for urgent aid corridor

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-06-15

With tensions running high in Kyrgyzstan following attacks against ethnic Uzbeks, the Uzbekistan government has shut its border with the fractious country while the UN has urged the creation of a humanitarian corridor to ensure the delivery of aid.

Tensions remain high in troubled Kyrgyzstan, a day after Uzbekistan closed its border with the fractious country following deadly attacks carried out against mostly ethnic Uzbeks by armed gangs.

Ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks have flooded into Uzbekistan over four days of bloodshed around Osh and Jalalabad, which has left at least 170 dead and 1,762 wounded.

Uzbekistan says it has already accepted 100,000 refugees. Thousands more are waiting at the border. These displaced people have alleged that Kyrgyz government forces have been helping the gangs in the slaughter.
On Monday, UN political affairs chief Lynn Pascoe called for the urgent creation of a humanitarian corridor for aid to be delivered in Kyrgyzstan.
The violence exploded Friday in Osh when ethnic Kyrgyz gangs began attacking the shops and homes of ethnic Uzbeks, igniting tensions between the two dominant groups in the region that have simmered for a generation.
The unrest comes barely two months after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in a popular uprising. Bakiyev's stronghold is in southern Kyrgyzstan.
"Vision of the apocalypse"
In the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, bodies littered the streets and Uzbek houses were gutted by fire. RFI correspondent Régis Gente, reporting from Osh for FRANCE 24, said the town was “the vision of the apocalypse.”
“All the Uzbek districts of the town have been wrecked,” he said. “Not a single [Uzbek] house has a roof because of fires. All the shops have been ransacked.”
He added: “There is real tension in the air and a feeling that the violence could start again at any time. Neighbouring Uzbekistan has closed its border and many ethnic Uzbeks here in Kyrgyzstan, who are the principal victims of this pogrom, are stuck where they are.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Kyrgyz authorities to act firmly.
"It seems indiscriminate killings, including of children, and rapes have been taking place on the basis of ethnicity."
The violence appeared to have been "orchestrated, targeted and well-planned," she added.
"No place to accommodate" refugees
With estimates of up to 100,000 refugees already inside Uzbekistan, the Central Asian state's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Aripov said the border would be shut, despite pleas from aid groups and the UN to leave it open.
"Today we will stop accepting refugees from the Kyrgyz side because we have no place to accommodate them and no capacity to cope with them," he said.
Uzbekistan needed international humanitarian aid to cope, he said.
"If we have the ability to help them and to treat them of course we will open the border again", he added.
Aripov said Uzbekistan had registered 45,000 adults from Kyrgyzstan, while another official said there were 65,000 adults in Uzbekistan's Andijan region alone. The UN's refugee agency said it was sending aid for 75,000.
Call for Russian intervention
Andrea Berg of Human Rights Watch, speaking from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, appealed for Uzbekistan to reopen its border and for Russia to deploy a force of peacekeepers to stabilise the situation.
“”For the moment, Uzbekistan is the only place these people have to flee to,” she told FRANCE 24. “These people are totally traumatised. They have lost all faith in their government and in the army.”
Kyrgyzstan’s interim government appealed to Russia at the weekend to send in troops. Russia initially ruled out deploying soldiers, but on Monday, the Russian-led regional body, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), held emergency talks on the deployment of a special force to the region.


Date created : 2010-06-15


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