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Urgent funds needed for Kyrgyzstan's displaced

© UNHCR/S.Schulman

UNHCR is calling on local and central authorities in Kyrgyzstan to improve return conditions for some 75,000 remaining internally displaced people (IDPs) uprooted by the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan during June.

UNHCR is now appealing for £14.6 million as part of the UN Kyrgyzstan flash appeal of £61.4 million; urgently needed for emergency shelter and protection projects in southern Kyrgyzstan.  Fresh funds will enable the UN to continue its protection, legal and humanitarian assistance to the affected population until the end of the year. For example, funds raised will be used to facilitate the restoration of important identification, civil status and property documents and in addition to contribute towards the provision of free legal advice.

At present, UNHCR teams in Osh and Jalalabad are meeting IDPs on a daily basis in southern Kyrgyzstan to monitor their situation. Many of the displaced have reported cases of detention and harassment, difficulties in accessing basic medical services, lack of electricity and poor waste management. Similar messages are also communicated to UNHCR through the free telephone help lines it mans 24-hours a day.

Together with its partners, UNHCR continues to advise IDPs on their rights and the procedures for restoring lost or destroyed personal documentation. Assistance is also being given to the Kyrgyz authorities in issuing new documents. Recent government decisions to establish mobile teams to visit and assist the communities affected by the June violence are promising as its decision to waive the fee for issuing temporary ID cards. 

Meanwhile, reconstruction of housing and emergency shelter remains a pressing concern for UNHCR. Many returnees and IDPs have shown reservations about the new plans of local authorities to construct multi-storey buildings to accommodate those who have lost houses, which would replace the old traditional neighbourhoods. Understandably, most people want to restore what they have lost through the violence - a family home respecting their customs and lifestyle.

For the displaced, the most urgent concern is to rebuild their homes before winter approaches with shelter assistance needed immediately. UNHCR will therefore use the requested funds of its appeal to cover the humanitarian needs of some 75,000 IDPs during the forthcoming winter. The shelter cluster, coordinated by UNHCR, has developed an emergency shelter strategy in consultation with the authorities which includes the construction of solid warm shelter for up to 2,000 of the most vulnerable households in Osh and Jalal’Abad. However, emergency shelter assistance for the forthcoming winter is not an alternative for the long term reconstruction and rehabilitation.

The shelter programme’s main challenge is the short three month time frame for implementation before winter sets in. Winters are particularly harsh in Kyrgyzstan with temperatures dropping to minus 25 degrees Celsius.