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Ban welcomes Uzbekistan's efforts to assist civilians fleeing Kyrgyz unrest

16 June 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced his appreciation for Uzbekistan’s efforts to address the crisis in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, where the security situation is reported to be fragile, days after deadly inter-ethnic clashes erupted.

The Uzbek Government estimates that around 75,000 people from southern Kyrgyzstan have crossed over the border since the clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks began last week.

Mr. Ban discussed the crisis in Kyrgyzstan and the plight of ethnic Uzbeks in a telephone call with President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, during which he also thanked the leader for granting the UN Resident Coordinator in Tashkent access to refugee camps to be able to assess needs.

He said that the UN would mobilize all necessary assistance in close coordination between relevant UN agencies and regional governments, adding that it was necessary to provide aid to all affected people in southern Kyrgyzstan and those seeking refuge in Uzbekistan.

The Kyrgyz authorities put the death toll from the recent violence at nearly 180 with 1,870 others injured.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today that security in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh remains fragile while pockets of violence persist around some nearby villages.

OCHA added that there has been little change in the situation in the Kyrgyz border areas with Uzbekistan, where there are several concentrations of internally displaced Uzbeks, particularly in Jalalabad province.

Neal Walker, UN Resident Representative in Kyrgyzstan, said that many of the displaced have moved out of the centre of the city and into smaller towns outside Osh, where they are living with family or friends.

“The ones that we worry about most are in the centre of the city where food is extremely scarce, water supplies are intermittent and there is very little energy, either gasoline or diesel, or public transport,” he told UN Radio.

“Also having a very hard time are those that are on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on the Kyrgyz side hoping to cross over but they are not able to do so at this time, or it is moving very slowly and they have no camps or conditions to really be okay there.”

Meanwhile, an emergency airlift by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Uzbekistan, carrying aid for tens of thousands of people fleeing the recent violence in Kyrgyzstan, began today.

Two cargo planes brought in 800 lightweight tents, plastic sheeting for emergency shelter, blankets and sleeping mats to meet the growing shelter needs of refugees. In coordination with Uzbek authorities, the tents will be rushed to the country’s east.

Today’s flights are the first of six that will deliver more than 240 tons of emergency relief items by the end of this week.

The first members of a UNHCR emergency team are in Tashkent and Andijan and are working with the Uzbek Government on planning and distributing UNHCR assistance.

The agency is preparing a separate airlift to Osh and the deployment of an emergency team to Kyrgyzstan.

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