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Updated: June 16, 2010 09:19 IST

Emerging humanitarian crisis in Kyrgyzstan: U.S.

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Uzbek refugees who fled from Kyrgyzstan live in a refugee camp on the border of Erkishlok on Tuesday. Photo: AP
Uzbek refugees who fled from Kyrgyzstan live in a refugee camp on the border of Erkishlok on Tuesday. Photo: AP

Observing that the situation in Kyrgyzstan is tense especially along the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, U.S. which is in touch with several countries in the region including Russia has said there is an emerging humanitarian crisis in this Central Asian republic.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake who is in the region, spoke with the Interim President Roza Otunbayeva to get updated on the current situation there and discussed efforts internationally to provide assistance to Kyrgyzstan.

Mr. Blake will be going to Tashkent today from where he will then travel down to the Fergana Valley to see firsthand the current situation involving individuals who have crossed over the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and evaluate directly the humanitarian situation there.

“We are in consultations with internationally and through the UN and Red Cross about potential offers of humanitarian assistance,” State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said.

At the direction of the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Mr. Blake will be in Bishkek on Friday and Saturday for direct consultations with the Kyrgyz Government.

“Thus so far, we’ve provided just under a million dollars in humanitarian assistance in the form of medical emergency supplies, bandages, surgical instruments, and clothing. We’re prepared to airlift medicines as needed,” he said.

“We recognize that with various estimates of up to tens of thousands of people displaced on both sides of the Uzbek-Kyrgyzstan border, they’re going to have dramatic humanitarian needs in the very near term, and we’re in discussions as to how to best help them meet those needs,” Mr. Crowley said.

The State Department spokesman said there are various estimates ranging from 80,000 to 200,000 in terms of potential displaced persons.

“There is, in fact, an emerging humanitarian crisis in Kyrgyzstan and we are responding and prepared to respond further to that,” he said adding that the US is in touch with the UN and the International Red Cross in this regard.

“I think we are in touch with authorities there to determine how best to respond. We want to make this a coordinated international response. And as to what is needed and then what countries are able to step up and provide the needed assistance, that is exactly what we’re trying to put in play,” he said in response to a question.

Noting that there has been terrible violence and hundreds of people have been killed and injured, Mr. Crowley said at this point, there’s a lot of conjecture not only as to what might have started this, but also whether there are forces within Kyrgyzstan that are taking advantage of the situation.

“We’re watching it closely. We’re consulting with Kyrgyz officials. We want to understand what this actually represents in terms of the immediate challenge that the interim government faces,” he said.

“They’ve got a referendum coming up scheduled for the end of this month, and we’ll be talking to them about and giving them some advice in terms of what the best path forward is.

And they’ve got a very difficult, challenging road in terms of putting in place a new government. So we are committed to Kyrgyzstan. We want to be supportive, but we want to do this in the right way,” Mr. Crowley said.

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