UN: Most Kyrgyz refugees returned from Uzbekistan
Most of those who fled Kyrgyzstan because of ethnic violence two weeks ago have started to return to southern Uzbekistan, data released Friday by the United Nations indicated, DPA reported.
Estimates earlier in the week suggested some 100,000 refugees were in Uzbekistan. However, in recent days they have started going home as the situation in Kyrgyzstan has improved.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated some 15,000 refugees were still in Uzbekistan, but said the figures were provisional.
"It doesn't mean at all that the emergency is over," said Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for OCHA, citing concerns over internally displaced people inside Kyrgyzstan and the efforts to resettle those returning home.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) noted that "many homes have been destroyed or badly damaged," and said people returning were in need of further humanitarian assistance.
While commerce and daily life were picking up again in southern cities like Osh, UN officials said widespread destruction and tensions were hampering a full return to normal.
More aid flights, bringing items like tents and blankets, were scheduled to reach the region over the weekend.