OSH – As barricades come down in the southern Kyrgyzstan city of Osh and refugees begin to return, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is intensifying efforts to bring food to residents whose lives have been shattered by ethnic conflict.
“There was nothing to buy. We have eaten everything in our homes and all we need now is food,” said one mother of four, a market trader, at a WFP food distribution in Dostuk today, an Uzbek neighbourhood where residents had barricaded themselves into their homes, fearful of violent clashes.
WFP’s Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla spoke to women, some of them in tears, as they received a two-week ration of flour and oil. They said they had dismantled the barricades the night before.
“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.”
WFP has provided food assistance to some 150,000 people in Kyrgyzstan since the conflict began on June 10. When fighting broke out, WFP already had 3,000 metric tons of food -- mainly wheat flour and oil-- pre-positioned at a warehouse in Osh, which the agency was able to distribute with the help of partners such as the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Now, even though people are returning to their homes in the conflict zone, many shops are still shut and markets are not functioning properly.
At the height of the crisis, more than 75,000 refugees streamed across the border into neighbouring Uzbekistan and another 300,000 were estimated to be internally displaced. Over the past week, WFP organized five airlifts of rations and emergency equipment and more are planned.
The emergency rations included 110 metric tons of high energy biscuits, fortified with vitamins and minerals, enough to provide a daily ration for more than 200,000 people.
WFP has also started trucking more food aid to the region from its warehouses in Tajikstan and Afghanistan, including flour, lentils, oil and salt.
In addition, the UN agency has set up a humanitarian hub at Osh airport as a staging post for receiving international aid. The UN has designated WFP to lead efforts to coordinate logistics and emergency telecoms for the whole of the humanitarian community.
As part of a joint UN fundraising effort, WFP has appealed for around US$20 million to provide emergency food rations to more than half a million people in Kyrgyzstan.
For Further Information:
Emilia Casella, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Mob. +41-792857304
Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob. +1-646-8241112