SOURCE: Save the Children

Save the Children

June 17, 2010 17:18 ET

Save the Children Readies Supplies for Vulnerable Children and Families Caught up in Growing Refugee Crisis in Kyrgyzstan

OSH, KYRGYZSTAN--(Marketwire - June 17, 2010) -  Save the Children is preparing to distribute relief items over this weekend to children and families affected by a wave of killing, violence and arson that has swept through southern Kyrgyzstan. 

Save the Children, which has an office in Osh, has an emergency assessment team on the ground. The agency is procuring supplies that it will distribute to temporary shelters housing women and children over the weekend.

"This is a major humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, are in need of aid and protection," said Will Lynch, Save the Children's Central Asia country director. "Children have witnessed and experienced terrible violence, insecurity and the loss of family, friends and their homes. They are now crowded into shelters, where they have little to do and no sense of normalcy -- or they are on the run, with little food, water, shelter or peace of mind."

The fighting, which left parts of the cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad in ruins and which continues around the nearby villages of Nariman and Kashkar Kyshtak, has driven an estimated 400,000 people from their homes. Save the Children staff report that the majority of displaced children and adults are sheltering in mosques, in the homes of neighbors or family members, or remain barricaded in their besieged enclaves. Some 100,000 of them -- primarily children, women and the elderly -- are now refugees in neighboring Uzbekistan, with more families slowly crossing the border every day.

"We know from experience that mass movements of people due to internal strife often lead to permanent displacement. We must move quickly to provide immediate relief but also prepare for what may be a long-term struggle for children," Lynch said. "We face the real possibility that children will fall into -- or further into -- poverty, be deprived of an education and lose protective safety nets."

Save the Children, one of few international humanitarian agencies working in Kyrgyzstan, has been in the region since 1992. All staff are accounted for and currently safe.

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