Red Cross asks to see Kyrgyzstan detainees

29th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The international Red Cross said on Tuesday it had asked Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva to grant the agency access to all detainees held after deadly inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan.

Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met Otunbayeva during a one-day visit to the capital, Bishkek, and the southern city of Osh which was at the epicentre of the violence in recent weeks.

"I discussed the humanitarian consequences of the recent violence with Ms Otunbayeva and asked her to grant the ICRC access to all persons arrested in connection with recent events," Kellenberger said in a statement.

The ICRC said it had delivered food to 180,000 people during the fighting earlier this month, which forced several hundred thousand people to flee their homes.

"We are ready to continue our activities for as long as needed," said Kellenberger.

"In particular, we stand ready to visit places of detention to assess the conditions in which the people arrested are being held and the treatment they receive," he added.

The findings of such visits would be shared confidentially with Kyrgyz authorities in keeping with the agency's rules, he underlined. The ICRC has been in Kyrgyzstan since 1999.

The senior Red Cross official also visited the village of Tashlak near Osh, where food, tents and hygiene kits are still being provided to displaced people.

"Even if the situation seems to have calmed down, many people still need help," said Kellenberger.

"I saw elderly women with tears on their faces queuing to get tents to set up for shelter next to their burned-down houses. In the streets of Osh you can see many houses and shops that are completely destroyed. It will take some time until people can again lead normal lives."

The UN refugee agency estimates that about 375,000 people are still displaced after the return of up to 100,000 refugees from neighbouring Uzbekistan last week.

© 2010 AFP

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