Fears two thousand Kyrgs may have died from e


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Fears two thousand Kyrgs may have died from ethnic fighting

Norman Hermant reported this story on Friday, June 18, 2010 08:12:00

TONY EASTLEY: There are fears the number of dead after days of ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan may be
much higher than the official toll of more than 190.

According to security officials in the country the actual figure may be ten times that figure.

The ethnic violence between ethnic Kyrgs and Uzbeks has eased, but now the challenge for
governments on both sides of the border is to care for more than 100,000 refugees.

Their numbers have overwhelmed the aid agencies.

Moscow correspondent Norman Hermant reports.

NORMAN HERMANT: It is not a disaster yet but aid agencies say the sheer number of refugees now
jammed into camps in Uzbekistan has far surpassed that country's ability to cope.

Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet is with the Red Cross which is trying to coordinate aid delivery with
Uzbekistan's government.

PIERRE-EMMANUEL DUCRUET: Of course they have some means, but anyway their means are limited and the
international aid is very much needed. The conditions for the first days were acceptable but
unfortunately since this situation is lasting, the refugees on the Uzbek side of the border need
food, also drinkable water and shelter.

NORMAN HERMANT: More than 100,000 refugees fill camps meant for half that number. Almost all are
ethnic Uzbeks who fled violent rampages by ethnic Kyrgs in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad in
southern Kyrgyzstan and there are more signs the clashes were not random.

Rupert Colville is a spokesman for UN Human Rights Commissioner.

RUPERT COLVILLE: We heard basically very similar things from a number of different sources that
there were clear signs of orchestration, that it wasn't just some spontaneous inter-ethnic problem
that flared up.

NORMAN HERMANT: Kyrgyzstan's interim government accuses supporters of the former president, ousted
in April, of sparking the violence.

The UN has heard those charges but Colville isn't prepared to go that far.

RUPERT COLVILLE: Osh is a very complicated place. There's an extraordinary ethnic patchwork there,
particularly this very large group of Uzbeks in the region. There's a lot of big criminal gangs
involved in the drug trade, and then the local politics, and very often all these elements get
intertwined. So it's particularly complicated and very often extremely hard to get to the bottom

NORMAN HERMANT: Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic has called on Russia to send peacekeeping
troops to help stabilise the country. Moscow has been reluctant and together with other former
Soviet states has offered only helicopters and trucks to help Kyrgyzstan's army.

But there's a real threat the ethnic violence could morph into something much more dangerous says
Irina Zvyagilskaya, of the Moscow Institute of Foreign Relations.

IRINA ZVYAGILSKAYA: I'm talking about very bad scenario which we cannot exclude completely. If God
forbid there is a civil war it will involve the north and the south of Kyrgyzstan because the main
clans represent the south and the north. Without international assistance it might happen.

NORMAN HERMANT: Russia may not want to wade into the middle of Kyrgyzstan's ethnic conflict but if
the violence doesn't stop, it may have no choice.

This is Norman Hermant in Moscow reporting for AM.