The United Nations refugee agency today called for continued support for southern Kyrgyzstan, noting that while the overall situation in the Central Asian nation is peaceful, tensions persist in some areas that suffered inter-communal violence last year.
Hundreds of people were left dead or injured by the clashes that began in June 2010 between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks. The violence also displaced 400,000 people within the country and into Uzbekistan, some 60,000 of whom remain displaced today.
The call for continued support from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) comes ahead of this Sunday’s presidential elections. Media reports say there are fears that the poll could fuel ethnic tensions.
“In view of ongoing threats to peace and stability, UNHCR feels the need to continue promoting reconciliation and prevent new displacement,” Adrian Edwards, the agency’s spokesperson in Geneva, told reporters.
In January UNHCR launched a supplementary budget appeal amounting to $11.4 million to continue protection activities and peacebuilding initiatives that promote reconciliation and prevent renewed conflict and displacement. It currently faces a $3.8 million funding shortfall that threatens several objectives, including its reconciliation efforts.
“We are seeking donor support, in bridging the financial gap, to implement another 100 community-based quick impact projects (QIPs),” said Mr. Edwards.
In particular, UNHCR need funds to support vulnerable people, including internally displaced persons and returnees, to survive the coming winter.
Last year, the agency 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 the coming winter.
Its activities have also reached out into conflict prone areas throughout the volatile Ferghana valley provinces in southern Kyrgyzstan that border Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
In a meeting with President Roza Otunbaeva last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Kyrgyzstan to carry out key recommendations of an independent inquiry into last year’s deadly ethnic violence, and confirmed the UN’s commitment to provide technical assistance for the presidential poll.