returned to Kyrgyzstan earlier this week
, as ethnic Kyrgyz gangs
attacked members of the ethnic Uzbek minority in the cities of Osh and
Jalalabad, where many Uzbeks live. The clashes have increased since that
time, driving many Uzbek survivors from their homes. Official estimates
put the death toll so far at
2,200, with 400,000 people displaced. The Big Picture has photos of the conflict
The spiraling racial violence has been met with scant response from the
international community. Here's what's
happening and why.
- Human Rights Groups Plead for Action
The Washington Post's Philip Pan writes, "In a joint
letter on Friday, two influential organizations, Human Rights Watch and
the International Crisis Group, called on the U.N. Security Council to
move 'without delay' to work with regional groups to send an
international police or military force to Kyrgyzstan that could
establish a corridor for the delivery of aid, provide security for
refugees to return home and make it possible for reconciliation programs
- UN Pledges $71M Emergency Aid Reuters's Louis Charbonneau and
Patrick Worsnip report, "The United Nations is launching a $71
million emergency appeal for humanitarian aid for Kyrgyzstan. ... The
U.N. secretary-general said he had contacted Kyrgyzstan's interim
leader, Roza Otunbayeva, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov and others
'to explore options for restoring order, preventing further loss of life
and coordinating humanitarian assistance.'"
- Global Powers
Shrug at Kyrgyzstan The New York Times' Ellen Barry writes, "for the
past week, as spasms of violence threatened to break Kyrgyzstan apart,
its citizens saw their hopes for an international intervention flicker
and die. With each day it has become clearer that none of Kyrgyzstan’s
powerful allies — most pointedly, its former
overlords in Moscow — were prepared to get involved in a quagmire.
... For the most part, the powers have evacuated their citizens,
apparently content to wait for the conflict to burn itself out. ...
Kyrgyzstan may have unraveled anyway, but competition between Moscow and
Washington certainly sped the process."
- We Could Have
Prevented This Global Post's Bridget Conley-Zilkic
writes, "the events of last week should have come as no surprise to
policymakers paying attention to facts on the ground. ... Further
violence can be prevented. The United States has one of the largest
embassies in Kyrgyzstan. Its central focus has been the maintenance of a
military base there that offers strategic support for the war in
Afghanistan. But human rights protection and prevention of genocide
ought to be core foreign policy priorities for our government."
Community Risks Another Rwanda The Guardian's Adam Oxford laments that
global leaders have "sat on [their] hands" while Kyrgyzstan's entirely
foreseeable violence approaches genocide. "The names of recent ethnic
conflicts have become bywords for international incompetence at
humanitarian intervention: Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, the list goes on.
The speed of the response to those caught in Kyrgyzstan's cleansing
shows how little we've learned from them."