Kyrgyzstan vows probe into ethnic violence
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Last Updated: Saturday, June 19, 2010, 23:34
Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan's interim government promised a top US envoy today that it will investigate deadly ethnic clashes as fears grew of fresh violence in the volatile south.

Officials and aid agencies say the clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks have killed up to 2,000 people and affected up to one million, including 300,000 people displaced in Kyrgyzstan and 100,000 who have fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan.

The United Nations said today it was stepping up aid to the region after issuing an urgent appeal for humanitarian assistance.

After meeting with Kyrgyzstan's acting government, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake said investigations into the violence would be essential to create conditions for the safe return of refugees and the internally displaced.

"Members of the provisional government assured me of their intention to launch an investigation into the causes of the violence.... Such an investigation should be complemented by an international investigation by a credible international body," Blake told journalists here.

"Is it important for the provisional government to establish an atmosphere of trust and security so the refugees in Uzbekistan and the internally displaced persons in Kyrgyzstan can feel confident that they can return to their homes," he said.

Kyrgyzstan's interim leader Roza Otunbayeva admitted Friday that the death toll from the clashes was probably 2,000 -- 10 times the official estimate of 192.

The World Food Programme said it would step up its aid to the region and from tomorrow will airlift 110 tons of high energy biscuits from its warehouse in Dubai to Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan and Andijan, Uzbekistan.

"With a huge number of people displaced by the conflict, and thousands more trapped without food, water or supplies, there's not a moment to lose," the UN agency's executive director Josette Sheeran said in a statement.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said yesterday the UN was launching a 71-million-dollar humanitarian appeal for Kyrgyzstan and that a separate appeal for Uzbekistan would be instigated next week.

Ban cited "shortages of food, water and electricity in the affected areas, due to looting, lack of supply, and restrictions on movement" and said hospitals were running low on medical supplies.

In Osh, the southern city at the centre of the unrest, residents said they were bracing for new violence after Otunbayeva promised that makeshift barricades around Uzbek neighbourhoods would be removed.


First Published: Saturday, June 19, 2010, 23:34

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