NEW YORK, NY—International humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger | ACF International has launched an emergency response to assist the victims of ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. An estimated 300,000 people have been internally displaced and at least 75,000 people have fled to neighboring Uzbekistan since violent clashes erupted in the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan in mid-June.
Action Against Hunger’s top priority is providing displaced populations in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan with access to food and safe drinking water with a focus on the most vulnerable—children, expecting and nursing mothers, and the elderly. The humanitarian group, which already secured permission to enter an area of Uzbekistan where thousands of refugees have congregated, has deployed emergency response teams to both countries yesterday. Experts in food security and water & sanitation will immediately begin providing clean drinking water to 30,000 people in Osh and carry out rapid assessments in affected areas to determine immediate needs. A cargo plane carrying emergency supplies is scheduled to arrive within the next few days.
Action Against Hunger learned that makeshift refugee camps have been established in Uzbekistan, but the humanitarian situation for the displaced in Kyrgyzstan remains unknown. Tens of thousands of people are caught on the Uzbek side of the border with Kyrgyzstan, where authorities have registered 32,000 refugee families, mostly comprised of women and children. The distribution of basic supplies is extremely limited due to insecurity, continued population displacement, and the closure of the Osh airport.
“The wounded and sick are unable to reach hospitals for fear of being exposed to violence, and there have even been attacks against medical personnel while trying to evacuate patients,” said Olivier Longue, Executive Director for ACF-Spain. “Humanitarian access is still very limited. Very few agencies are on the ground because of ongoing fighting.”
Hospitals and health centers are running out of food and fuel as the number of wounded continues to rise. In the city of Osh, where many grocery stores, markets, and restaurants remain closed, the population faces rising food insecurity. Household food stocks are being rapidly depleted because of looting and restrictions on movement and on the delivery of supplies. With temperatures soaring above 100 degrees, the water supply in some areas of Osh has been disrupted due to power outages. Stocks of bottled water have also run out or been looted.
“We are especially concerned about indiscriminate attacks on civilians, gender violence, looting, the destruction of personal property, and the lack of protection afforded to those displaced by the violence,” said Javier Perez, head of the emergency team for Action Against Hunger.
The organization calls on all parties involved to cease the killings, stop the destruction, and allow humanitarian actors to safely respond to the immediate needs of the affected populations.