Ethnic tensions and talks of new violence in
Kyrgyzstan remain alive despite a relative calm there that has allowed some refugees to return home, the United Nations said Thursday, dpa reported.
The UN Security Council received a briefing on the situation in the Central Asian nation during a closed-door session from UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs, Oscar Fernandez- Taranco, who said that returning refugees needed protection.
He also said insecurity continued to hamper humanitarian work of UN agencies relief.
The UN mission in the region was providing technical assistance to Kyrgyz authorities to organize a referendum on Sunday, in which people displaced by the recent unrest can also vote.
The local Akipress news agency reported in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, that early voting for a new constitution had begun amid tight security, just weeks after violence broke out.
Fernandez-Taranco urged regional organizations to devise measures "to prevent any re-occurrence of violence and foster an environment conducive to reconciliation and re-building," the UN said in a statement.
The World Food Programme said barricades had been removed in Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan, to allow refugees to return home while the organization was intensifying efforts to distribute food rations to the inhabitants in that city.
WFP has distributed food to 150,000 people since the violence erupted on June 10. WFP had stored 3,000 tons of wheat flour and oil at a warehouse in Osh and is now calling for emergency donations to meet demands of Uzbek refugees in Uzbekistan and an estimated 300,000 people displaced by the fighting inside Kyrgyzstan.