Three months after interethnic violence left almost 2,000 homes across southern Kyrgyzstan destroyed, in Osh, the center of the violence, reconstruction is just beginning. A sense of urgency to pick up the reconstruction pace is growing as the first cold nights of fall descend on the city.
In many damaged neighborhoods, men are still picking through rubble to make room for new foundations. Meanwhile, some playing children are exposed to asbestos dust.
International relief organizations provide the homeless with construction materials, but work has started well behind schedule. Privately, aid workers complain that the Osh City administration is not collecting rubble from the roads as promised, slowing the ability to deliver new construction materials to work sites.
Many families still live in UN-provided tents, located in compounds. In the city’s Sharq District, 50 families of displaced Uzbeks live in a camp with one communal outdoor kitchen. Down the street, 658 children – ranging in age from first-graders to high-schoolers -- attend classes in tents set up on a cotton farm. Their school, named after Leo Tolstoy, was destroyed in the violence.
Most of the destruction occurred in Uzbek neighborhoods. International aid organizations arrived soon after the fighting, but had to contend with a lack of funding and local disputes about how aid should be distributed.
David Trilling is the Central Asia news editor for EurasiaNet.
David Trilling is Eurasianet’s managing editor.