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U.S. Aids Victims of Ethnic Violence in Kyrgyzstan
June 15, 2010

Protesters rallied in the central square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, April 8. (AP photo)

14 June 2010

By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer

Washington — The Obama administration wants a coordinated international response to address the ongoing ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan and is providing humanitarian assistance for the victims, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

Speaking to reporters June 14, Crowley said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke earlier in the day about the situation with the foreign minister of Kazakhstan, which borders Kyrgyzstan, and Crowley affirmed that U.S. officials are maintaining “very close touch” with the Kyrgyz Republic’s provisional government over the situation.

“We, along with other international donors, are in the process of providing humanitarian aid, and we are in discussions with the provisional government regarding their humanitarian requirements,” Crowley said. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake has also reached out to Kyrgyz authorities to determine if they need any non humanitarian assistance.

The United States is looking at how it can work within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and with countries in the region “to provide assistance and help the provisional government stabilize the situation,” Crowley said.

Violence between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks, who constitute nearly 1 million of Kyrgyzstan’s 5.5 million people, has raged since June 10 in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), more than 100 people have been killed and more than 1,200 injured since then, and an estimated 80,000 have fled their homes seeking to cross into neighboring Uzbekistan.

The ICRC launched a preliminary emergency appeal June 14 for funding to enable it to help 100,000 victims, according to a June 14 statement by the organization.

ICRC spokesman Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet said that while the situation in the city of Osh had grown “a little calmer,” nearby Jalal-Abad has grown “very dangerous.” Osh, the second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, is located in the southern portion of the country; many supporters of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev are concentrated in the area. Bakiyev was ousted during civil unrest in April and the interim provisional government took over.

In southern Kyrgyzstan, “some areas are deserted and we believe many people are staying in their homes because they are too scared to leave,” Ducruet said.

At the OSCE’s Annual Security Review Conference in Vienna, Nancy McEldowney, the State Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Kyrgyzstan and offered condolences to the victims.

“This tragedy is a powerful reminder of the fact that we, the participating states of the OSCE have a responsibility to take all possible action to prevent these types of conflict, and to help resolve them once they occur,” she said.

McEldowney reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the OSCE, and said she hopes delegates to the security review conference will use the occasion to “discuss, debate and decide upon practical ways to improve and expand the capacity of the OSCE to solve problems and enhance the lives of those who live throughout the OSCE space.”