Southern Kyrgyzstan needs continued support - UNHCR

Briefing Notes, 28 October 2011

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 28 October 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The UN refugee agency is calling for continued support for southern Kyrgyzstan in the wake of the violence of June 2010. Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan are scheduled for this Sunday, and while the overall situation is peaceful tensions nonetheless persist in some locations that suffered inter-communal violence during the summer of 2010. Hundreds of people were left dead or injured by the events of that period, several thousand houses and businesses were looted and destroyed, and 400,000 people were displaced within the country and into Uzbekistan.

President Otunbaeva, Parliament and other stakeholders have appealed to all citizens of Kyrgyzstan to demonstrate mutual respect and tolerance and avoid any actions that could contribute to fueling conflict on national, regional, or religious grounds.

Last year, UNHCR provided rapid life-saving non-food and protection aid to some 400,000 displaced persons. An emergency transitional shelter project supported return and reintegration to around 15,000 families who had lost their houses with new warm, seismic safe and culturally-acceptable homes before the onset of winter 2010-2011.

Our activities have also reached out into conflict prone areas some very remote throughout the volatile Ferghana valley provinces in South Kyrgyzstan that border Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

UNHCR teams continue to monitor the situation in fifty locations and assist communities and authorities to promptly identify and mitigate sources of conflict. More than one hundred community-based quick impact projects promote reconciliation through small infrastructure, livelihood and communication activities.

In January 2011 UNHCR launched a supplementary budget appeal amounting to US$11.4 million to continue protection interventions and to implement peace building initiatives that promote reconciliation and prevent renewed conflict and displacement. Thanks to the generous support of donors UNHCR has achieved tangible results in reducing tension and potential sources of conflict. However, several important objectives, including our reconciliation efforts, are currently challenged by a funding gap of US$ 3.8 million.

In particular, UNHCR need funds to support vulnerable people, including internally displaced persons and returnees, to survive the coming winter, where temperatures will again drop to minus 10-15 Celsius even in the densely populated valleys of mountainous Kyrgyzstan. There are some 60,000 people who remain displaced in the country.

In view of ongoing threats to peace and stability, UNHCR feels the need to continue promoting reconciliation and prevent new displacement. We are seeking donor support, in bridging the financial gap, to implement another one hundred community-based quick impact projects.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Bishkek, Natalia Prokopchuk on mobile +996 77 598 4224

  • In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 22 79 557 91 06




UNHCR country pages

A Place to Call Home: The Situation of Stateless Persons in the Kyrgyz Republic

Findings of surveys commissioned by UNHCR, Bishkek 2009.

Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan

Two decades after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, thousands of people in former Soviet republics like Kyrgyzstan are still facing problems with citizenship. UNHCR has identified more than 20,000 stateless people in the Central Asian nation. These people are not considered as nationals under the laws of any country. While many in principle fall under the Kyrgyz citizenship law, they have not been confirmed as nationals under the existing procedures.

Most of the stateless people in Kyrgyzstan have lived there for many years, have close family links in the country and are culturally and socially well-integrated. But because they lack citizenship documents, these folk are often unable to do the things that most people take for granted, including registering a marriage or the birth of a child, travelling within Kyrgyzstan and overseas, receiving pensions or social allowances or owning property. The stateless are more vulnerable to economic hardship, prone to higher unemployment and do not enjoy full access to education and medical services.

Since independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has taken many positive steps to reduce and prevent statelessness. And UNHCR, under its statelessness mandate, has been assisting the country by providing advice on legislation and practices as well as giving technical assistance to those charged with solving citizenship problems. The refugee agency's NGO partners provide legal counselling to stateless people and assist them in their applications for citizenship.

However, statelessness in Kyrgyzstan is complex and thousands of people, mainly women and children, still face legal, administrative and financial hurdles when seeking to confirm or acquire citizenship. In 2009, with the encouragement of UNHCR, the government adopted a national action plan to prevent and reduce statelessness. In 2011, the refugee agency will help revise the plan and take concrete steps to implement it. A concerted effort by all stakeholders is needed so that statelessness does not become a lingering problem for future generations.

Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan

The crisis in Kyrgyzstan

UNHCR was monitoring the returns of refugees and other displaced people to southern Kyrgyzstan as tens of thousands of people headed back to their communities. Violent clashes in Osh and other cities in southern Kyrgyzstan earlier this month had sent an estimated 300,000 fleeing to the countryside, while 100,000 had fled across the border into Uzbekistan.

Days after the attacks, Kyrgyz authorities were still trying to restore law and order in the south, where they reported that some 180 people were killed and 1,900 injured. Many of the internally displaced have been staying with host families with many also sleeping rough. In Uzbekistan, authorities reported more than 50 sites hosting refugees in the border provinces of Andijan, Ferghana and Namangan. Some refugees were staying in schools and other public buildings.

UNHCR has provided more than 300 tonnes of emergency assistance in a series of relief flights over the past week, working with the concerned governments and local partners in sometimes hazardous conditions.

The crisis in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan: One Year OnPlay video

Kyrgyzstan: One Year On

A year ago, when violence erupted in Kyrgyzstan, Saliya and her family hid in their basement for three days as fighting raged overhead. Life is slowly returning to normal today.
Kyrgyzstan: The Need to RebuildPlay video

Kyrgyzstan: The Need to Rebuild

Thousands of displaced people in the town of Osh are struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives.
Kyrgzstan: On the MovePlay video

Kyrgzstan: On the Move

Violence in early June in southern Kyrgyzstan forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes. In the Jalal-Abad region, some discuss their experiences.