June 15, 2010

MSF teams are arriving on the ground on both sides of the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to provide emergency assistance to those in need.

Violent clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan have led to an acute humanitarian crisis in the country. According to official reports, at least 170 people have been killed and 1,700 wounded since clashes began on June 10. Large segments of the population have also been displaced. At present, MSF teams are arriving on the ground on both sides of the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to provide emergency assistance to those in need.

In Kyrgyzstan, MSF’s emergency medical stock in the city of Osh has already been dispatched to local hospitals. Additional medical material, drugs, cooking sets, plastic sheeting for shelter, water containers, and hygiene kits will be en route to the south of country on Wednesday, June 16. Meanwhile, an MSF medical team will soon arrive in Osh and from there try to reach Jalalabad, the other main city where serious violence has been reported. They will visit health structures and places where people have taken refuge near the Uzbek border and start providing assistance.

“In addition to the many hospitalized victims who may need medical attention, one of our biggest worries is for the hundreds of people who have been wounded and have no access to health care. Some of them are afraid to go to health structures or to move from where they are. Others have fled far from any health structures near the border area. We are also concerned by the lack of access to drinking water—water systems were shut down for some days in Jalalabad—and the lack of food and basic items as hundreds of houses were looted, destroyed, or burned during these violent events,” says Alexandre Baillat, MSF’s head of mission in Kyrgyzstan.

Thousands more have sought refuge across the border into Uzbekistan. About 75,000 people have officially been registered as refugees in the Uzbek border province of Andijan. Uzbek authorities have started to set up camps and local hospitals are treating wounded people who have come across the border.

An MSF medical team arrived in Andijan yesterday to assess the situation and to support efforts by the local authorities to respond to the influx of refugees. “The first priorities are medical care, medical supplies, food and tents for temporary shelter,” says Andreas Bruender, head of mission for MSF in Tashkent. “In the following days we will send more staff to the affected areas to support the population, in particular with additional medical and psychological support for traumatized refugees. We are working in close coordination with the authorities and other actors on both sides of the border to determine how to respond to the needs most effectively.”

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been running a tuberculosis program in Kyrgyzstan's penitentiary system since 2006. In Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan, MSF is treating patients with drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis in Nukus and Chimbay and has recently expanded activities into Karauziak and Tahtakupir districts. MSF has been working in Uzbekistan since 1997.