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Calm but underlying tension in Osh and Jalalabad

Kyrgyzstan, June 15, 2010

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Here's what our country director, Catherine Brown, reported today:

"Things seem to be calm in Osh and Jalalabad, but of course there is an underlying tension throughout these cities. Tonight the military in Osh will be going to certain neighborhoods in a sweep action to collect weapons and probably arrest some people they know were involved in wanton murder and property destruction....

"The airport in Osh is overwhelmed with humanitarian material and transport in Osh remains problematic....

"The food distribution in the city itself is somewhat dangerous because people are angry. The city is organizing elders (aksakals) from both the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities to help with food aid distribution so that riots don't break out around the food distribution trucks. The city is also using these groups to determine where food aid should go in the city and surrounding areas.

"Sasha [Mercy Corps' senior official in Osh] met with Osh's vice mayor today and the mayor said that people need food (flour, oil, sugar, salt, macaroni, vegetables and detergent) and medical supplies, like insulin, antiseptic, blood pressure medicine, aspirin, bandages. Even though food is being distributed, we understand that many mahalahs (neighborhoods) that are barricaded still haven't received any food. Also, food availability in the few stores that are open is rapidly disappearing.

"Kompanion's staff in Osh also are running out of food, so Kompanion's employees are donating funds to help us buy food for them in Bishkek, but we have the challenge of getting our aid to the south."