31 December 2012 |

Kyrgyzstan: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2012

 

As of the end of 2012, up to 164,000 people were still internally displaced in Kyrgyzstan as a result of ethnic violence that broke out in June 2010. The increase in the figure from 2011 was due to new information. Around 300,000 people were internally displaced in 2010 when the south of the country was engulfed in four days of intense violence between its two main ethnic groups, the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks.

Both groups suffered killings, torture and sexual assault, the widespread destruction of residential, commercial and state property, and mass looting. The violence, which led to significant population displacements from the cities of Osh and JalalAbad, flared two months after President Kurmanbek Bakiev was overthrown at the end of 10 days of social unrest in the capital Bishkek. The political turmoil surrounding Bakiev's removal and the poor response of the security services, along with economic hardship and the activities of organised crime groups, all contributed to the outbreak of the violence in June 2010.

The security situation in southern Kyrgyzstan remained precarious throughout 2012, despite measures put in place to promote inter-ethnic tolerance. Mutual mistrust both between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks and towards the authorities continued to be compounded by the lack of rule of law and by social exclusion. Disaffected Uzbeks claim the Kyrgyz majority has marginalised them by forcing them out of public and professional life.

The main perpetrators of the June 2010 violence have still not been brought to justice, and those found guilty of involvement have for the most part been ethnic Uzbeks.

Continued impunity for the crimes committed and a lack of reparation for the victims of the violence continue to constitute significant obstacles to the remaining IDPs achieving durable solutions to their displacement. Feelings of insecurity have already prompted further migration and may lead to future violence and displacement.

Emergency reconstruction of the 2,000 homes severely damaged or destroyed in the 2010 violence was completed by the end of that year. Additional rooms were added to these homes in 2012 with further international funding. Ownership of the reconstructed homes has been registered in Jalal-Abad, but in Osh the process of assigning tenure has been delayed.

The State Department for Reconstruction and Development agreed to implement a simplified ownership registration process in May 2012, and by the end of the year 1,059 reconstructed houses in Osh had been registered, leaving 595 properties still to be processed. The lack of ownership registration leaves some IDPs who have returned to their places of origin with insufficient security of tenure and exposes them to the risk of expropriation or eviction without recourse.

Some of the homes reconstructed for IDPs have been expropriated and demolished by the authorities in Osh to make way for urban development. In May, the local administration passed a resolution to widen a street on which a number of IDPs' homes had been rebuilt following the June 2010 violence. More than 20 residential properties and several business premises were demolished in the process, of which three were houses reconstructed with assistance from international organisations. According to international observers, the expropriation process did not meet international standards, particularly in relation to consultation, clarity of process and transparency. More importantly for the affected IDPs, the reconstruction of their homes was unsustainable, impeding their progress towards a durable solution to their displacement.

Kyrgyzstan is a pilot country for the UN Secretary General's Framework on Ending Displacement in the Aftermath of Conflict, and at the end of the year UN agencies began discussing the procedure for putting the initiative into action. As part of the process, UNHCR and UNDP will lead the design and implementation of a strategy on durable solutions to forced displacement in cooperation with the national authorities. This, along with the implementation of the UN Development Assistance Framework 2012-2016, offers opportunities to address IDPs' outstanding needs related to their displacement in a sustainable manner.

The Kyrgyz government has put measures in place to improve how the judiciary operates and strengthen the protection of minorities, but a comprehensive and progressive reconciliation plan is needed to address the various causes of 2010 conflict and ensure security and justice for all. Such a plan would restore confidence and ensure that current work on the reintegration of IDPs and the achievement of durable solutions is sustainable.

Ongoing consultations on the State Strategy for Sustainable Development 2013-2017 and the National Unity Concept represent opportunities for improving the rule of law and national unity and for moving toward reconciliation.