A leading independent refugee advocacy organization has called on Washington to cooperate better with the international effort to help those displaced by ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan.
At a donor conference in Bishkek at the end of July, several countries and international organizations pledged over $1 billion in relief for Kyrgyzstan. The US contribution will be $48.6 million, or about 5 percent of the total aid. But the US usually contributes 20 to 25 percent of aid in such cases, said Dawn Calabia, a senior adviser at Refugees International, who traveled to Kyrgyzstan in July to collect information on the refugee situation.
“Right now the US has done very little on the humanitarian side,” Calabia said. The US has pledged some aid outside the auspices of the UN, “but I think it's important to work in solidarity with the United Nations, in particular UNICEF in their educational programs, and to build up civil society in Kyrgyzstan,” she said, speaking at a forum at the Women's Foreign Policy Group August 5 in Washington, D.C.
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.