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Aid Arrives in Southern Kyrgyzstan

Kate Woodsome 17 June 2010

Foreign aid deliveries are slowly flowing into southern Kyrgyzstan, where the United Nations estimates 400,000 people have been displaced by deadly ethnic clashes.

A spokeswoman for the U.N. humanitarian affairs office said Thursday that about 100,000 of the displaced had fled the country and taken refuge in neighboring Uzbekistan.

More than 190 people are believed to have died since violence erupted between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks on June 10. Over the past day, a relative calm has been restored to southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad.

The first two planes carrying emergency supplies landed in neighboring Uzbekistan Wednesday, and the U.N. refugee agency said planes will bring 240 tons of supplies by the end of the week. These items will include tents, blankets and sleeping mats.

Meanwhile, the country marked its second of three days of offcial mourning for those killed in the violence. Flags flew at half-staff Wednesday as Kyrgyz troops patrolled the streets of Osh.

On Friday, the top U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asian affairs, Robert Blake, travels to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to discuss the crisis. The U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan says it has allocated $10 million for humanitarian aid.

Russia also has sent humanitarian aid, but not peacekeeping forces, as Kyrgyzstan's interim leaders had requested.

The south is a power base for former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted in an April 7 uprising that killed 85 people. The deposed leader, who has taken refuge in Belarus, has denied allegations that his supporters instigated the ethnic violence.

U.N. officials said Tuesday the violence appears to have been triggered by coordinated attacks aimed at creating instability in the Central Asian nation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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