Sitting in her living room with walls covered by traditional carpets and pillows on the floor, Mahadil Abdulaeva fights to hold back the tears as she recounts the sudden death from heart failure of her 1-year-old daughter Murzayim two days earlier.
In the dusty and rocky settlement of Ak-Jar, several kilometers from the center of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, 30-year-old Abdulaeva and her remaining 3-year-old daughter live alongside about 15,000 other internal migrants – mostly from poor, rural villages in the southern half of the country – who live hand-to-mouth without a residency permit.
Without the appropriate “propiska,” the 4,000 families in this squatter settlement, or “novostroika,” have no access to social services, such as medical care or water. As Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary election takes place on October 10, adults without a propiska are also unable to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
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Dean C.K. Cox is the photo editor for EurasiaNet.