BISHKEK – The United Nations World Food Programme is delivering desperately needed food to thousands of people fleeing violent clashes, many of whom are trapped in neighbourhoods in southern Kyrgyzstan’s main city Osh.
“With a huge number of people displaced by the conflict, and thousands more trapped without food, water or supplies, there’s not a moment to lose,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, announcing that the agency planned to airlift food into Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring Uzbekistan over the weekend to augment food distributions already underway.
Over the last two days, a two-week ration (100 metric tons) of fortified flour and vegetable oil was distributed in the Ak Buura district of Osh by WFP local partners. This is in addition to 40 tons of flour – enough to feed 100,000 people for a day -- distributed by the International Committee of the Red Cross to hospitals and internally displaced people around the city. More food will be delivered today.
From the agency’s emergency warehouse in Dubai, aircraft will start delivering 110 tons of high energy biscuits to Osh and Andijan, in Uzbekistan, starting Sunday – enough to provide daily rations for 206,000 refugees and displaced people. High energy biscuits are used in the first stages of relief operations when people are without cooking facilities and transport is difficult.
As part of a UN Flash Appeal launched out of New York yesterday, WFP appealed for USD $19 million to provide emergency food rations to more than half a million victims of violence in Kyrgyzstan, plus $1.6 million for logistics and emergency telecommunications services which it coordinates on behalf of the humanitarian community.
WFP and the UN country team are setting up an operational hub in Osh airport where humanitarian assistance will arrive. Transporting supplies to and from WFP's warehouse in Osh, located in one of the most dangerous areas of the city, remains a challenge. Food distribution is further hampered because roads from Kyrgyzstan’s capitol Bishkek are not safe and commercial trucking companies are reluctant to risk their vehicles.
The violence between ethnic Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities started June 10. Since then, more than 100,000 people have fled across the border with another 300,000 internally displaced.