Kyrgyzstan: Energy crisis hits vulnerable groups hardest

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

BISHKEK, 10 February 2009 (IRIN) –

Disadvantaged children and other vulnerably groups like elderly pensioners are bearing the brunt of the energy crisis in Kyrgyzstan, and the situation is not being helped by the poor response to a UN emergency appeal in December.

“Despite the fact that this winter in Kyrgyzstan has been mild, the most vulnerable groups. are in great distress,” Raja Berrada Msefer, deputy representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Kyrgyzstan, told IRIN.

“Thirty children’s centres need help and generators but with the funds that we have we can only help those who are in the greatest need. We can only help 10 of these centres,” said Msefer.

According to Neal Walker, head of the UN Development Programme in Kyrgyzstan, the UN drew up plans to mitigate the effects of a severe winter on the most vulnerable groups, and avoid what happened in Tajikistan in 2008.

The result was a US$20 million UN appeal which said 580,000 people needed food aid and 10,000 needed non-food aid items; 336 medical facilities and 50 non-health organisations needed power generators.

The homeless and streetchildren were prioritised. Ali Buzurukov of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Almaty (Kazakhstan) told IRIN that currently about $2.2 million, or 11 percent of the requested amount, had been provided.

“This is very little. and not sufficient for the solution of problems,” Buzurukov told IRIN. Permanent food shortages, health and the lack of economic resources were the main concerns, said Walker.

“UNICEF is working to find shelter for these children – where they can stay warm, where they will have warm blankets and food, and where they can receive all things necessary for survival,” UNICEF’s Msefer said.

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