Amnesty International Urges Kyrgyzstan's Neighbors to Open Borders

For Immediate Release

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Amnesty International Urges Kyrgyzstan's Neighbors to Open Borders

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International is calling on all
countries neighboring
Kyrgyzstan to open their borders to thousands of people desperately
seeking
refuge from the violence that has engulfed the southern part of the
country
in the last five days.

The violence in and around the southern cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad and
towns and villages in the region with large Uzbek populations has
claimed
the lives of hundreds of people and left thousands injured.

Amnesty International has received reports that armed young men continue
to roam the streets, setting houses on fire, beating, shooting and
killing
people they believe to be Uzbek.

Up to 100,000 people, mainly of Uzbek origin, and predominantly women
and
children, are believed to have sought refuge from the violence in
Uzbekistan,
where the authorities are trying to accommodate those fleeing the
violence.

“The Uzbekistani authorities must also ensure unconditional and
unhindered
access to international humanitarian organizations that have the
expertise
and resources to deal with such a mass influx of refugees,” said
Weicherding.

“There is an urgent need to provide humanitarian assistance to all those
who fled from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan, including those who are
currently
still waiting to enter Uzbekistan, to register and assess the protection
needs of everyone, including unaccompanied children, and for families to
be reunited.”

Amnesty International has learnt that while many of those fleeing
violence
are being sheltered in tents, schools and other public buildings in
Uzbekistan,
others are without adequate accommodation .

“Food, water, shelter, as well as essential medical services must be
provided
to all, and their security must be ensured,” said Weicherding.

Amnesty International is particularly concerned for the safety of
individuals
who fled persecution in Uzbekistan over the last five years and were
either
recognized as refugees in Kyrgyzstan or were living in hiding in the
south
of Kyrgyzstan for fear of being forcibly returned to Uzbekistan.  

These individuals cannot return to Uzbekistan where they are at risk of
torture and long term imprisonment in cruel and inhuman conditions.

Amnesty International has received information that many are now living
in fear of their lives, hiding from armed gangs who target Uzbeks.

“It is imperative that in this volatile and unpredictable situation the
interim government and local authorities in Kyrgyzstan ensure adequate
protection for all people in the country and in particular for the most
vulnerable,”  Weicherding said.

“The authorities in Kyrgyzstan must also prepare to shelter and feed
people
fleeing from the south to the north and may also need international
humanitarian
assistance.”

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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.

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