U.S. envoy calls for international investigation of Kyrgyz violence

09:14, July 02, 2010      

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz on Thursday called for an international investigation into the violence that has ravaged southern Kyrgyzstan.

Schwartz is in Kyrgyzstan for talks with the interim government on the Central Asian nation's current situation, efforts to restore trust among its southern residents, and international aid.

The Kyrgyz government has agreed to carry out a fair and independent investigation into the deadly ethnic clashes, Schwartz told a press conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital.

The American diplomat said he discussed issues concerning the investigation with interim President Roza Otunbayeva during their meeting earlier Thursday.

The current situation in southern Kyrgyzstan is still complicated, and the most challenging task now is the reconstruction process, he said.

Schwartz said he believed the observers sent by international organizations to southern Kyrgyzstan could help ease the tense situation there and boost the confidence of the local people.

The U.S., Schwartz said, plans to offer 32 million dollars in humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan.

On June 10, a casino brawl between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths broke out in Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Osh. The fight later escalated into massive weeks-long clashes.

Health authorities said that more than 290 people were killed and over 2,000 injured during the violence, which followed an earlier wave of riots starting in April with a revolt that ousted former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said an estimated 100,000 refugees had fled to neighboring Uzbekistan, but most of them have now returned to Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz authorities said the violence was sparked by supporters of Bakiyev. But the ousted president, from exile, has denied any involvement.

Also on Thursday, Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, called on the international community to make a concerted effort to help restore order in Kyrgyzstan.

Since Kyrgyzstan is not able to deal with all of its difficulties itself, the international community should provide humanitarian aid for those affected by the riot, Guterres said.

Guterres said that in southern Kyrgyzstan there are about 500,000 people who need assistance, including those who fled to Uzbekistan and those who chose to stay.

The United Nations will give all necessary and indiscriminate assistance to those in need, he said.

Kyrgyzstan still has a long way to go toward thorough ethnic reconciliation, but the people there aspire to peace, said the U.N. official, who visited the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad on Wednesday and Thursday.

Source: Xinhua


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