Red Cross raises humanitarian alarm in Kyrgyzstan
The International Red Cross Saturday raised grave concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in southern Kyrgyzstan, wracked by inter-ethnic violence.
"Things are getting worse and worse by the hour. We hear reports of tens of thousands of people fleeing the fighting and looting, and heading towards the Kyrgyz border with Uzbekistan," said Severine Chappaz, the deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) mission in Kyrgyzstan.
"The electricity and gas have been cut off, meaning there are also no water supplies. Shops and markets are closed, leading to fears of a lack of food, especially in the hospitals and places of detention," said Chappaz, who is in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh.
Staff from the ICRC and the Kyrgyz Red Crescent Society were able to visit and provide assistance to three medical facilities or visit the morgue in Osh on Saturday.
At least 75 people have been killed and almost 1,000 wounded during the ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, the country's health ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
Kyrgyzstan's provisional government led by Roza Otunbayeva has struggled to impose order in the volatile Central Asian state since seizing control during riots that ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev earlier this year.
Witnesses said brawls had broken out between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbek groups in Osh, once the stronghold of Bakiyev.
According to Chappaz, the insecurity has made it difficult to assess the full extent of the humanitarian needs on the ground and has raised fears that the clashes in Osh could spread to other areas of the country.
The ICRC called on those involved in the fighting to show restraint and avoid bloodshed, and to allow the sick and wounded unhindered access to health workers.
© 2010 AFP