The situation is still very tense in Osh and Jalalabad, southern Kyrgyzstan, where violent clashes have left hundreds dead since June 10. MSF teams are providing medical care to the survivors and to people displaced by the violence, and are also supporting local health structures.

Violence in Nariman

On Monday, a team from the international medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) learned of a violent episode in Nariman, in the outskirts of Osh. The MSF team then visited the hospital in Nariman where 25 wounded people were receiving care and two were reported to have died.

© Alexander Glyadyelov | Osh, Kyrgyzstan. An MSF doctor examines a 24-year-old man who has been beaten on his way to the food market.

“The patients were all men suffering from wounds such as head injuries, ribs fractures and bruises,” said Andrei Slavuckij, MSF coordinator in southern Kyrgyzstan. “Theses wounds were clearly related to violent beatings. This is just a new example that violence and tensions are far from over here.” Local hospital staff could cope with the number of patients but were lacking basic drugs and medical material, which MSF then donated. MSF witnessed the presence of four unidentified armed persons at the hospital, a situation which may prevent other wounded people from seeking medical care. “If other people are wounded, they may be hiding somewhere and be too scared to come and get medical care at the hospital,” added Slavuckij. “In addition, some ambulances cannot refer severe patients to more specialized medical structures because their drivers have received death threats in some places at checkpoints for doing so. It is essential that patients who need care have total, unhindered access to medical structures.”

Activities started in Onadir

On Tuesday, an MSF team found a very difficult situation at a health facility in Onadir, a community of 55,000 inhabitants community located south of Osh in Uzbekistan. “The medical personnel are totally exhausted,” said Sonia Peyrassol, MSF psychologist and project coordinator. “They have been treating patients night and day since the first day of the crisis. Both the patients and the medical staff are in deep shock. When we asked them, ‘How are you?’ they started crying and telling us terrible stories.” On the same day, MSF provided post-operative care to 50 patients who had been wounded in the earlier days of the crisis. MSF is now supporting the clinic by setting up surgical capacity and reinforcing maternal and pediatric care as well as treatment for chronic diseases. A MSF surgeon, a medical doctor and a nurse will be based in Onadir and work alongside the clinic’s staff. Psychological care will be at the core of MSF’s work.

© Alexander Glyadyelov | Uzbek refugies are coming back to Kyrgyzstan, after crossing the border at the Sary Tash check point.

More than 10 days after inter-community clashes erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan, the situation is still very tense in and around the cities of Osh and Jalalabad. MSF has observed that some of the people who fled violence (some by crossing the border to Uzbekistan) have now started to return to their places of origin. A lot of houses have been burned in Osh and the surroundings area, and many people are still very scared, hiding or barricaded in their neighbourhoods. Many rumours only aggravate this situation of fear.

Six MSF teams on the ground

MSF is now working in Osh and Jalalabad, as well as in four sites located close to the border with Uzbekistan, providing medical support to health structures and care to the many people who have been affected and displaced by violence. MSF has organized six teams comprising doctors, surgeons, nurses, psychologists and logisticians. Four of the teams are focused on giving assistance to families displaced by the violence and who are living in dire conditions. Besides medical care and psychological support, they have distributed 1,000 hygiene kits and other emergency relief goods for 5,000 people. Two other teams are based in health structures in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad, assisting the local health personnel and providing them with medical supplies – including 2,000 treatments for chronic diseases that have been donated to the Onadir polyclinic. By Wednesday, MSF staff were giving around 300 medical consultations a day, including care to many wounded people. MSF now has 25 international staff running activities in southern Kyrgyzstan. On the other side of the border in Uzbekistan, MSF has been training and supporting local psychologists in order to offer mental health support to refugees, concentrating on group counselling sessions and training to counsellors.  An assessment of water and sanitation needs is planned. MSF has been supporting the refugees with relief items, which had been donated into a central stock. Since Wednesday, the situation has been changing and the team has seen many refugees leaving. As a consequence, authorities have ordered the mental health activities be stopped. The MSF team is continuing to monitor the situation and preparing to support other MSF teams on the Kirghiz side of the border. MSF has worked in Kyrgyzstan since 2006 and in Uzbekistan since 1997 providing medical treatment to tuberculosis patients, including those suffering from the most resistant form of this disease.