Not only is southern Kyrgyzstan experiencing a refugee crisis, the region is facing a humanitarian disaster brought on by deepening shortages of food and medical supplies.
The normal supply chains and distribution methods for goods and services have collapsed amid the inter-ethnic violence that has engulfed the Osh and Jalal-abad regions. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].
Officially, the fighting has claimed at least 124 lives, but unofficial estimates put the death toll much higher. In addition, the government is unable to provide essential services, including law enforcement and fire fighting.
With the violence entering its fifth day, witnesses described the center of Osh as looking like a war zone with sections of the city in ruins and corpses strewn about streets. Authorities reported that 35 uncontrollable fires were raging in the city late on June 14. According to some eyewitnesses, gangs of young men, some armed with Kalashnikovs, attacked firefighters who tried to extinguish the blazes.
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Alisher Khamidov is a journalist based in Osh.