Kyrgyzstan crisis could affect up to one million people: WHO

 The World Health Organisation said Friday that it was working on a worst-case estimate that the crisis in Kyrgyzstan may affect up to one million people, about a third of whom could be refugees.

Kyrgyzstan crisis could affect up to one million people: WHO ảnh 1
Uzbeks houses were destroyed in the ethnic clash in Kyrgyztan.

"We are working with a planning figure of one million people that have been directly or indirectly affected by this event -- 300,000 of them... refugees," said Giuseppe Annunziata, WHO coordinator for emergency programme support.

The UN health agency official confirmed when asked that the figures were a "worst-case scenario", and that the remaining 700,000 are people who could be displaced within Kyrgyzstan by the conflict.

At the moment, up to 100,000 people have already sought refuge in neighbouring Uzbekistan, not counting children, while about 300,000 are thought to be internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

A spokeswoman for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Christiane Berthiaume, said the aid planning figure of one million would include assistance for families in both countries who have given shelter to those who have fled.

Annunziata also pointed to unconfirmed reports from different sources that some ethnic Uzbek women had been "subject to gender-based violence."

"Unfortunately there are atrocities that have been reported targetting the Uzbek minorities in Kyrgyzstan," said Annunziata, adding that there were cases of rapes reported by women who have sought refuge in Uzbekistan.

The official said that the key focus of the agency was therefore on the health needs of these women, as well as of the elderly people and children who had been affected by the violence.

Berthiaume added that 90 percent of people who fled to Uzbekistan were women and children who are in "a very bad physical and psychological condition."

"Many have witnessed or have suffered acts of violence, there are thousands of families who have been separated, they have to be reunited," she told journalists.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the situation in the conflict-hit southern part of the country remains volatile. "The tension is very high. There is a lot of sporadic violence, a lot of aggression. It's very volatile and we are very concerned about the safety of the people who are still barricaded in Osh," said OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs.

"They have been joined by some people fleeing villages, they are barricaded and they have no access or they don't want to go out to have access to medical treatment," added the spokeswoman.

The UN refugee agency's spokesman Andrej Mahecic also noted that access for aid workers to the population in need was "extremely difficult and limited."

Two UNHCR planes carrying 80 tonnes of relief items are expected to arrive in Osh, with the first carrying 800 tents to land on Saturday and the second carrying other relief items to arrive on Sunday, he said.

The United Nations is to launch an appeal later Friday for the displaced population in Kyrgyzstan and another appeal would be made next week for Uzbekistan, which is hosting most of the refugees.

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