The Danish Refugee Council builds permanent housing for a large group of returnee families in southern Kyrgyzstan. The initiative is part of an international effort to secure a sustainable rehabilitation process of Uzbek Kyrgyz returnees.
Houses were burned to the ground and the streets lay empty when the Uzbek Kyrgyz refugees returned to their villages in southern Kyrgyzstan. Most of the refugees have returned to the Osh district, where ethnic unrest forced them to flee in summer of 2010. Now, a large scale project is launched to ensure reconstruction of their lost homes. The housing project is carried out by the Danish Refugee Council in collaboration with the humanitarian aid agency, ACTED, and bare witness to the broad international support for the vulnerable minority group in Kyrgyzstan.
"It is a unique project and an extraordinary example of how the aid agencies and donors have been able to support the relief effort in Osh. The Danish Refugee Council is now able to extend the outreach that has so far secured shelter for the returnees, and we can strengthen the stabilizing efforts already launched in Osh. Within a very short time, the Uzbek Kyrgyz has been secured transitional housing, and now these are expanded into permanent solutions," says Rikke Johannesen, programme coordinator with the Danish Refugee Council.
The project, which will ensure permanent housing for the returning Uzbek Kyrgyz, is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and is implemented in agreement with the Kyrgyz authorities. A total of 1,621 new dwellings will be constructed allowing an estimated 10,000 people to have their homes back in order to consolidate a base from which to start anew.
The violent clashes in the summer of 2010 between ethnic groups in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia killed over 350 people and forced more than 350,000 to flee. A few months later, the Danish Refugee Council was designated to handle parts of the resettlement project, which has paved the way for a safe return and transitional housing.
In addition to the housing project, the Danish Refugee Council through the support from UNHCR will also provide legal aid and advice on clarifying issues of building permits, as well as land and property rights. This is an important part of the project to ensure that the houses remain the returning refugees’ property.
With Osh district being located in an earthquake zone, specific standards for the houses are applied while the houses are also constructed according to local traditions. The housing project is launched during the coming weeks and all 1,621 homes are expected to be completed during 2011.
Alexandra Strand Holm
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