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UN Chief Launches Aid Appeal for Kyrgyzstan

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Friday that the world body is seeking $71 million to provide emergency assistance to more than a million people displaced and otherwise affected by the ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan.

The secretary-general said an estimated 300,000 people have been displaced inside the Central Asian country, and up to 100,000 have fled to neighboring Uzbekistan. Hundreds of thousands of others have also been directly impacted by the conflict.

"There are shortages of food, water and electricity in the affected areas, due to looting, lack of supply, and restrictions on movement," he said. "Hospitals and other institutions are running low on medical supplies."

Mr. Ban said he has been in touch with the Kyrgyz interim leader Roza Otunbayeva and Uzbek President Islam Karimov, as well as with the relevant regional organizations and key countries, in an effort to explore options for restoring order and coordinating the humanitarian response.

The U.N. appeal calls for $71 million to cover emergency needs for the next six months. A separate appeal for the response in Uzbekistan is expected next week.

Earlier, Mr. Ban's representative in the region, Miroslav Jenca, said in a telephone link from Bishkek with reporters at the United Nations, that the situation on the ground is quite fluid. He said there should be a "proper investigation" into the source of the clashes between the ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, adding it should be part of a reconciliation and confidence building process.

People began fleeing the area on June 10th, when reported fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups in the city of Osh escalated into a riot, and sparked unrest throughout the region over the next several days.