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Red Cross responding to Kyrgyzstan violence

17 June 2010

Two women cry at the Uzbekistan borderAs ethnic violence continues in southern Kyrgyzstan, the British Red Cross has donated £100,000 from its Disaster Fund to provide humanitarian aid to internally displaced people and refugees who have fled to Uzbekistan.The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has doubled the number of its international staff in southern Kyrgyzstan, working in healthcare, forensics, and emergency relief. They plan to deliver food, water and other essential items to 100,000 people in the coming month.

Urgent needs

Séverine Chappaz, the ICRC's deputy head of mission in Kyrgyzstan, said: “We've been in touch with a mosque in Osh, where a volunteer doctor told us that 6,000 ethnic Uzbeks had sought refuge from one district of the city alone. Almost half of the people in the mosque are children and they're trying to survive off food provided by a local farmer.

“In addition to food, they need insulin, IV fluids, syringes, antibiotics, soap and wound dressings as they are dealing with many burn victims.”

The ICRC and the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan have worked together to assist 16 medical facilities caring for more than 1,130 injured people in the past week. During a lull in the shooting near Jalalabad yesterday, a small team of ICRC doctors visited the city's main hospital, where they provided additional medical supplies to staff, who were treating around 60 wounded patients.

Refugees in Uzbekistan

Ethnic Uzbek refugees carry a disabled boyAn estimated 100,000 people have fled across the border into Uzbekistan, most of them women with children. The governmental authorities say they have registered around 75,000 adult refugees – many of whom have children with them – staying in at least 40 makeshift camps.The ICRC has announced it is ready to deploy staff and relief supplies if requested by  the authorities to help with the refugee situation in Uzbekistan.

Long-term health and social care programmes

The British Red Cross supports several long-term health and social care programmes in Kyrgyzstan, some of which have been affected by the violence.

One of the programmes provides vulnerable women with vocational skills in sewing, and crucial life-skills which help them find employment. The programme addresses wide-spread discrimination and domestic violence. Hundreds of single mothers, migrants, and women on low incomes in Osh, Jalalabad and Bishkek have benefited from the project.

Another programme works to halt the spread of tuberculosis by helping people with TB complete their treatment. It also educates people to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease.

Olga Jumaeva, programme support manager for Eurasia, said: “I spoke with colleagues from the Kyrgyzstan Red Crescent today and they are working hard to keep the longer-term programmes running while also responding to significant humanitarian needs as a result of four-day-long violence in Osh and Jalalabad.

“The longer-term programmes in the south, particularly in Osh and Jalabad, have had to stop due to the escalation of the situation and resulting change in priorities. People living there are scared to leave their houses, even to collect humanitarian relief.”

Read about what the ICRC’s doing

Find out what to do if you’re worried about family in Kyrgyzstan

Learn about how we help women in Kyrgyzstan

Read about our tuberculosis programme

A donation from our Disaster Fund has been made in response to this crisis. Contributions to the Disaster Fund will not be used directly in response to this disaster, but will be used in response to other emergencies in the future.

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