Red Crescent aid leaves Tashkent bound for Kyrgyzstan

Publié: 29 juin 2010 0:00 CET

Joe Lowry in Tashkent

Humanity, impartiality and neutrality are often referred to as the three great principles of the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. But the principle of universality was amply illustrated in Tashkent on 27 June, when a truck loaded with aid from the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan set out on the 450-kilometre journey to the border with Kyrgyzstan, where it will be handed over to the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgystan for distribution.

Late last week, tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks returned to their home towns and villages in Kyrgyzstan from refugee camps just across the border, having fled clashes in their home country.

Many are returning to an uncertain future, with reports of homes and market places being burnt and looted. The two Red Crescent Societies, together with the International Federation and the ICRC are working round the clock to cope with the rapidly-changing humanitarian situation.

Significant humanitarian and material resources were deployed to cope with a huge population movement, and the mass and sudden return caught everyone by surprise, as well as posing new, unforeseen challenges.

“We were assessing the humanitarian needs in camps and preparing to mount a relief operation for some 24,000 of the most vulnerable,” said Ervin Blau, the IFRC’s Field Assessment and Coordination Team (FACT) leader.

“But now we have to think about how to redeploy resources to best fit in with the new and unexpected scenario.”

While the big picture is being analysed, aid is already on the way. The local NGO 'You Are Not Alone', led by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, daughter of the President of Uzbekistan, collected 27.5 tonnes of aid (clothes, food, water, clothes, toys, medicines, water containers, kitchen sets) through local philanthropists, the Uzbek diaspora and the diplomatic community in Tashkent.

“We have given it to the Red Crescent to transport across the border and distribute to the returnees because this is an organization everyone knows and trusts,” said Galina Smirnova from 'You Are Not Alone'.

Sukrat Jurabayev, Disaster Management Programme coordinator with the Uzbek Red Crescent helped load the trucks before setting out on the long journey across the Pamir mountains to Kyrgyzstan.

“We will meet with the Ministry for Emergency Situations when we arrive in the eastern city of Andijan and then go to the border. In the neutral zone between the two countries we will transfer the aid into trucks from the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan. The aid is really needed, because many people lost their homes and all their property. This will give them a chance to get back on their feet.”