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Further aid needed in Kyrgyzstan

The United Nations (UN) and humanitarian aid agencies are continuing to help communities recover in southern Kyrgyzstan after violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks during the summer, which left over 400 people dead and thousands homeless. Following a UN appeal for financial assistance from the international community, 51 million dollars has been received towards this work. However, this amount is only 55% of the 92.6 million dollars requested and therefore the UN has repeated its appeal for aid. The UN’s humanitarian coordinator in the region describes how a “traumatised population” still requires considerable support, “not least the children and other vulnerable groups”.

Work towards providing shelters for those made homeless has made good progress, with 2,000 new homes completed by the end of this month. These houses have been built with baked bricks and reinforced steel foundations to comply with construction requirements for any new buildings to be earthquake-resistant. The houses also have a beam running around the top which protects against seismic activity. The new homes only provide about 42 square metres of room initially, so they are being called “transitional shelters”. But when the warmer weather arrives, the buildings can be extended by families to around 100 square metres in order to make them into proper homes.

Over 13,000 people were left homeless after the violence in Osh and Jalalabad, with around 1,700 homes completely destroyed. With the assistance of the UN’s Refugee Acency (UNHCR), most households will have been moved into the new transitional shelters by the end of November, though some families continue to remain with relatives or friends.

Now the early focus on providing protection before the onset of winter is shifting towards other areas. The additional money requested by the UN is needed to help provide support with food and agriculture and ensure an early recovery in the region. Funds are also required for sanitation and health programmes and to provide education for the children of the region, many of whom are being taught in makeshift facilities after their schools were destroyed in the violence.

Following elections last month, Kyrgyzstan is still waiting for the leading political parties to form a working coalition, which would constitute the first parliamentary democracy in this part of Central Asia. But it remains to be seen whether a completely new government will command the authority needed to promote stability and development in this poor and extremely volatile southern region.

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