Nuncio Calls Kyrgyzstan 'Absolute Humanitarian Catastrophe'

The Vatican ambassador to Kyrgyzstan described the situation in the country as chaotic as ethnic violence increased the number of refugees and displaced people. "In Osh, there is a situation of absolute humanitarian catastrophe: There are no lights, no gas, no water and no food in the markets," Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia, Vatican nuncio to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, told Vatican Radio June 15. He said it was impossible to accurately count the injured because the Uzbeks are afraid to go the hospital. He reported dozens of deaths in Osh and said that as of June 13, 47 were dead in the border city of Jalal-Abad. Two Jesuits are responsible for the church in both cities. Government officials put the death toll at more than 175 June 15, but local officials said it probably was higher, since Muslims traditionally bury their dead the day they die. Some media reports spoke of mass graves in Osh and Jalal-Abad. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said it would begin an airlift to Uzbekistan June 16 to help take relief to tens of thousands of Uzbek refugees who had crossed the border from Kyrgyzstan.

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