The south of the Kyrgyz Republic is the most densely populated of the country, and inhabited by multiethnic groups. Ethnic tension has been growing in southern Kyrgyzstan in recent months, following the overthrow of the government in early April. On 10 June serious violence erupted in the city of Osh between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. There was killing of civilians, looting and destruction of property in the city. Several districts have suffered widespread arson, massive destruction of infrastructure and loss of assets.
According to official statistics, out of Kyrgyzstan's population of 5.3 million, ethnic Kyrgyz make up 69.6 percent and Uzbeks 14.5 percent. In the south, Uzbeks comprise about 40 percent of the population in the Jalalabad region and approximately 50 percent in the neighbouring region of Osh. Several thousand ethnic Uzbek Osh residents have been reported to cross the border into Uzbekistan. Many other citizens have been made homeless or displaced by the unrest.
The general context of extreme poverty in the Republic, where - according to WFP’s Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) of April 2010 - one out of five households is food-insecure, has been exacerbated by the disruption of economic and agricultural activities in April and by the recent violence in the Southern part of the Republic.
The Government has attempted to provide support to the affected population (through extremely limited means and lack of experience). However, the ability to ensure security for the civilians and address the rising needs remains uncertain. The Government officially requested the United Nations to provide humanitarian support to the residents of Osh city through addressing the priority needs in food, shelter, and water, sanitation and health.
Assessments conducted by WFP’s existing partners from the affected area show that food is the highest priority for the displaced population and those trapped within the cities of Osh and Jalalabad. Markets were destroyed or looted and food stocks available at the household level will be depleted within days.
The food is meant to meet the basic food consumption needs of households affected by the unrest, who have been left without shelter and assets, and to compensate for the unavailability of food at markets through a fair process of distribution of humanitarian aid. Food will be distributed in coordination with the Government’s Committee for Humanitarian Assistance and WFP’s existing counterparts in the field.