As barricades come down in the southern Kyrgyzstan city of Osh, WFP is streaming food to residents whose lives have been shattered by ethnic conflict. WFP Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla visited the city to get a firsthand look at the relief effort’s progress.
OSH – Residents in Uzbek neighbourhoods in Osh are emerging from behind the barricades they erected during the clashes that erupted in early in June and many families that fled to Uzbekistan are returning, intending to stay with relatives as they try to get back on their feet. But food is scarce in the wake of the conflict, with many stores and markets still closed.
“There was nothing to buy. We have eaten everything in our homes and all we need now is food," said a market trader and mother of four, who came to a WFP food distribution this week.
Displaced family returns
Leading his family back home to Osh, this old farmer said food was a major worry. Read more
Map of Kyrgyzstan
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Chief Operating and Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla spoke to her and many other women at the distribution, as they received a two-week ration of flour and oil.
“These women have suffered such a trauma over the last few days and have had to confront real hunger,” he said. “At least they know that they can rely on WFP until their lives get back to normal. WFP stands ready to help provide food security for all those who have suffered in this sad conflict.” »See the photo gallery
Stepping up aid
Food aid to southern Kyrgyzstan had reached over 240,000 people by Friday as WFP streamed in food for victims of the recent conflict. Some 650 metric tons of wheat flour and oil have been distributed, while WFP has airlifted over 110 metric tons of high energy biscuits (HEBs) into the region, enough to provide a daily ration to over 200,000 people.
HEBs pack all of the calories and nutrients the body needs into a readily consumable snack, making them an ideal source of nourishment in the first stages of crisis. Further provisions of flour, lentils, oil and salt are expected from WFP warehouses in neighbouring Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
WFP has also brought in armoured vehicles and IT equipment for a humanitarian hub to serve as a staging point for the international aid effort.
An uneasy calm
Hostilities between ethnic Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities in southern Kyrgyzstan forced some 375,000 people from their homes, around 75,000 of whom fled into neighbouring Uzbekistan while the remainder were stranded in camps along the border. While people are beginning to return, food and basic necessities are still scarce.
WFP has been working in Kyrgyzstan since 2008, helping the most vulnerable families survive the harsh winter months. In 2009 the agency distributed food commodities to 264,000 people.