Christian Groups Respond to Deadly Kyrgyzstan Clashes

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By Aaron J. Leichman, Christian Post Reporter
June 15, 2010|11:56 pm

Violence in Kyrgyzstan that left hundreds dead has also left the southern part of the country “out of control,” according to a Christian leader in the area.

The need for the international intervention is imperative, added Tatiana Kotova of the ACT Alliance Central Asia Forum.

"It is absolutely clear that Kyrgyzstan is not able to solve this problem without external help. This is what the international community needs to understand urgently," she reported.

Deadly rampages in the country's south have gripped the region since late Thursday, when mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz torched homes and businesses of ethnic Uzbeks. Many sections of Osh – a city of 250,000 – were burned to the ground and the rampages have since spread into surrounding towns and villages.

Since the violence broke out, up to 200,000 people within Kyrgyzstan have fled, U.N. refugee agency spokesman Andrej Mahecic said in Geneva.

Nearly 1,900, meanwhile, have been injured, according to Kyrgyzstan's Health Ministry.

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ACT Alliance’s Kotova also reported that the official figures of the number dead failed to include people dying of injuries in hospitals, and that authorities acknowledged the numbers were inaccurate.

Kyrgyzstan's interim President Roza Otunbayeva said Tuesday the real death toll likely was "several times higher" than official count of 179 people killed.

"People are now hoping the Russians will come and are also meeting in front of the U.N. office to push for the introduction of U.N. peacekeepers," Kotova reported, after noting the widespread disappointment over the interim government's handling of the riots.

According to ACT Alliance, food, water and hygiene goods were in huge demand as people fled the cities, where "horrible deaths" of civilians were being reported.

The joint office of ACT members DanChurchAid and ICCO based in the capital Bishkek, are in regular contact with partner organizations in the southern regions, who are gathering an overview of the fast-changing situation and most urgent needs identified so far.

Habitat for Humanity's national office in Bishkek, meanwhile, is assessing the situation in the country as is World Vision, which has worked in nearby Uzbekistan since 2003.

“World Vision has a minimum staff in Uzbekistan tasked with liaising with the government, which could be expanded,” reported Suzanne Wavre, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director for the Middle East Eastern Europe region. “However, if World Vision determines that it will respond, it will most likely be through trustworthy partners.”

In the meantime, World Vision said it supports the United Nations’ call for humanitarian access to displaced populations in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and a return to calm.

On Tuesday, clashes still continued in and around Osh. Though Interior Ministry troops patrolled Jalal-Abad, a major city about 45 miles from Osh, a city spokesperson said the region was still not safe.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay further reported Tuesday that the fighting appeared to be "orchestrated, targeted and well-planned." She urged authorities to act before it spread.

 

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