Kyrgyzstan: Red Crescent provides ongoing support

Published: 26 July 2010 0:00 CET

Giovanni Zambello, IFRC and Naima Sadyrbekova, Kyrgyzstan Red Crescent

Within days of the conflict erupting in southern Kyrgyzstan, the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was providing relief to the victims of the crisis.

The situation in Kyrgyzstan remains tense. The vast majority of people who fled the civil unrest have now returned, with the number of displaced people and returnees estimated at 375,000. The majority are staying with relatives and host families who are already poor.

According to an assessment conducted by Red Crescent staff, the southern branch of the Kyrgyz Red Crescent has provided humanitarian aid to over 30,000 people. As a result of a second situation assessment, long-term relief will be provided to the villages of Mady and Furkat, which have been identified as needing continued support.

Residents of these villages – made up around 500 families of various ethnic groups – have already received assistance in the form of tents and food. They will now receive extra help to rebuild their homes. The Red Crescent is mobilizing its volunteers to support these two villages with a focus on particularly vulnerable groups, including homeless families or families with many children, people with disabilities or who are infected with TB, and the elderly.

One resident of Furkat expresses her gratitude to the Red Crescent, the first to respond to her call for help.

“The tent is spacious, two-layered and, what is most important, it does not leak when it rains,” says Sharipa Abdykerimova.

Sharipa says she is trying not to mourn the loss of her home, which was burnt down during the unrest. She only regrets the loss of one thing – a large handmade portrait of her husband, which went up in flames along with the house. “Things can be bought, a house can be rebuilt, wounds heal, but the portrait of my husband was my most treasured possession and it cannot be restored” she says.

Tracing the missing

The work of the Kyrgyz Red Crescent also includes a tracing service, supported by the ICRC. As a result of the unrest, the Kyrgyz Red Crescent received 26 requests to trace missing relatives, including requests from people as far away as Russia and Japan who lost contact with their relatives as the conflict unfolded. So far, ten of these tracing requests have already been successfully resolved.

One such case is the story of two girls who were on holiday in southern Kyrgyzstan. Red Crescent staff worked with ICRC to locate the two, who were eventually found in Uzbekistan. Once all the official documentation had been dealt with, the girls were able to travel on an ICRC plane to Bishkek where they were met by their relieved relatives.

Training others

To date, the Kyrgyz Red Crescent has trained 25 volunteers to provide psychosocial support to children in the southern region. During the crisis, all possible help was given to children trapped in the conflict zone. Often risking their own lives, Red Crescent staff helped transport children along the most dangerous route from the city of Osh to the airport so they could then be moved to a safe zone.

The Red Crescent also worked with the Osh municipality with an initiative to give police officers basic first aid training. Over the past two and a half years, the Kyrgyz Red Crescent south regional representation has trained more than 5,000 people, including drivers, police staff, police helpers, students and representatives of neighbourhood committees in Osh and Jalal-Abad.

Since the beginning of July, the overall political situation in southern Kyrgyzstan has remained calm, but in affected areas, some tension still remains. The IFRC, along with ICRC and the Kyrgyzstan Red Crescent, continues to monitor the situation.