UN emergency aid leaves Sharjah for Kyrgyzstan

High-energy biscuits and medical supplies airlifted yesterday from the world body's depot in the UAE to refugees of ethnic violence.

Two youths, ethnic Russian Maxim, 9, and Kyrgyz Sumat, 10, left, walk through debris as they search for food in the ransacked market in Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan, Monday, June 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) *** Local Caption ***  XSP113_Kyrgyzstan_Unrest.jpg
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DUBAI // Another 20 tonnes of emergency aid was flown from Sharjah to Kyrgyzstan yesterday as the United Nations continued to distribute supplies from its Dubai depot to the thousands of people fleeing ethnic clashes. The cargo - high-energy biscuits used in the first stages of relief efforts - brings the total amount of aid released from the UN's food agency warehouses at Dubai's International Humanitarian City to at least 130 tonnes.

About 400,000 people have fled their homes since violence flared between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks on June 10, with many Uzbeks fleeing across the border into Uzbekistan. Two members of the UN World Food Programme's Fast IT and Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team (Fittest), Jalal Shah and Ozdzan Hadziemin, were deployed from Dubai to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, last Tuesday to establish secure communications for humanitarian workers in the affected areas.

UN staff have been evacuated from the area due to increasing security risks, leading the two men to set up base inside the airport. Greg Vanny, the head of Fittest, said the pair may soon be joined by a third team member from the Dubai office, who is from Uzbekistan."We have had security clearance to go to Osh but it's not safe outside the airport so staff are operating from inside there," Mr Vanny said. The security situation in Osh, the the city worst hit by the violence, is currently classed as phase three on the UN's five phase security classification, with one being the safest and five the least safe, but Mr Vanny said that could soon be heightened to phase four.

"There is still a lot to be done," he said. "The infrastructure is still in place in Osh, and we can pick up a modem and get internet access, but in Osh we have a security situation which is pretty bad." Mr Shah, a Pakistani expatriate, and Mr Hadziemin, from Macedonia, are likely to be in Osh for at least another week. On Sunday, the World Food Programme began delivering 110 tonnes of high-energy biscuits from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai to Osh and Andijan in Uzbekistan. The biscuits, they said, were enough to feed 206,000 refugees for a day.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR also sent eight planes containing tents, blankets, kitchen sets, plastic sheeting and collapsable jerry cans for 60,000 people. Of the eight, six were sent to Andijan, on the Uzbek side of the border, and two flights headed to Osh. A delegation from the UAE Red Crescent Authority has distributed large quantities of food, medicine and blankets to refugees in five camps at the border area between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.