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Flower growers fear cold wave could damage crops

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:03 am

Flower growers in the Mekong Delta are troubled with the unusually cold weather conditions and fear damage to their seasonal flowers and ornamental plants.

A farmer is nurturing an apricot flower plant for Tet in Cho Lach District, Ben Tre Province (Photo: SGGP)42 year old farmer Nguyen Van Tho in Cho Lach District of Ben Tre Province was worried the continuous rain and persistent cold temperatures this year might damage his 1,000 apricot plants. He is resorting to constant spraying and reduction of fertilizers to prevent the plants from blossoming too soon.

Another district resident named Le Thi Lan noticed that her 17,000 pots of daisies were slowly showing signs of frost bite.

In Ba Bo flower village, Binh Thuy District, Can Tho City many farmers are anxious and taking special care of their flower gardens particularly after the recent heavy rains.

Nguyen Van Ben has grown flowers for Tet for 20 years and this year he claims that 20 percent of his 2,000 pots of daisies had already been damaged. On the other hand, the cost of fertilizers, pesticides and labor had also increased which added to their woes.

People in Tan Quy Dong village, Sa Dec District of Dong Thap Province quoted a 30-40 percent rise in expenses on flower and ornamental plant gardening. This has led the village to prepare only three million flower pots this year, one third less than previous years on traditional flowers like daisies and marigold.

Traders had streamed into gardens to buy flowers in previous years but this year has been dull according to flower growers in Long Thoi Commune, Cho Lach District.

Tran Van Nam in the Ba Bo flower village, Binh Thuy District said that because few traders have come to buy flowers this year, the local growers had to hire stalls in Can Tho City to sell their flowers.

A small stall of just four square meters cost VND1.4 million while selling a mere two pots of daisies could be expected to fetch less than VND50, 000. Several of the flower growers expected to see losses this year.

According to Bui Thanh Liem, head of the Cho Lach District Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ben Tre Province, farmers in the district had prepared four million pots of flowers and ornamental plants for the coming Tet, which was half the amount from previous years. So far only 40 percent of the pots have been sold.

Source: SGGP

Merger of Somali militants could mean more attacks

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:30 am

 Somalia’s weak, U.N.-backed government could face an increase in attacks from Islamist insurgents after the two largest groups dropped their running feud and merged, analysts and fighters said Monday.

The announcement on Sunday of a merger between al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam means the two won’t waste resources fighting one another, and will instead concentrate on fighting the Mogadishu-based government and the African Union troops who protect it, said Sheik Mohamed Osman Arus, Hizbul Islam’s head of operations.

“The two groups have already shared ammunition, field clinics and fought together,” Arus said. “But having a united leadership will mean the end of the puppet government and the African dogs,” a term militants use for the 8,000 African Union troops in Mogadishu.

Some of the 1000 soldiers of Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) trained by Uganda and European Union at their passing out parade, in Bihanga about 350kms west of Uganda capital Kampala, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Since its establishment in 2007, al-Shabab has sought to defeat any Islamist rival. The group — Somalia’s most dangerous — increased attacks on Hizbul Islam in recent months and overtook several towns Hizbul Islam once controlled, military momentum that hastened the merger.

Abdirahim Isse Adow, the director of the government-run Radio Mogadishu, saw the merger as an opportunity for the government.

“It will be easier for the government to fight one group instead of fighting two different parties,” he said. “The public got fed up with al-Shabab’s tactics, and now the government can present itself as the only option in the market of winning hearts and minds.”

Al-Shabab imposes a harsh and conservative reading of Islam that bans movies and TV. Punishments include the chopping off of hands of thieves and death by stoning of adulterers. Several hundred foreign fighters — some of them veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts — populate its ranks.

Hizbul Islam has previously condemned al-Shabab’s use of suicide bombers and summary executions. Its founder, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, also criticized al-Shabab’s public pledge of allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Hizbul Islam is widely seen as having a more nationalist agenda than al-Shabab, which has been heavily influenced by Wahhabi Islam ideology.

Arus, the Hizbul Islam commander, said his group united with al-Shabab under its own terms because continued fighting would only degrade both organizations, giving “more power to the enemy.” He said that 22 Hizbul Islam leaders met in Mogadishu on Friday and Saturday and decided on joining al-Shabab.

“We said to ourselves fighting al-Shabab will only lead to the Islamists’ downfall, as those apostates (the government and its backers) will take advantage of our weakness,” Arus said. “So we decided to unite with al-Shabab and strengthen the Mujahedeen. We will advise those hardline elements in it from within.”

Omar Abdirahman Mohamed, a political commentator on Mogadishu radio stations, said the merger wasn’t equal, but that al-Shabab “gobbled up” Hizbul Islam.

“The merger is a not a sea change in Somali politics,” he said. “I don’t think that their merger will affect the government significantly because they were already government enemies. If it brings something it is that it will only make reconciliation efforts more difficult because the anti-peace al-Shabab has taken over the opposition.”

Rashid Abdi, a Somali analyst with the International Crisis Group, downplayed the alliance, calling it “tactical.”

“I don’t think it can have a serious military effect on the government because Hizbul Islam has been weakened by al-Shabab and desertions,” he said. “I’m skeptical about its life span.”

Source: SGGP

Afghan handover could run past 2015 in areas: NATO

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 6:56 am

Early elections in Italy could hamper recovery: president

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2010 at 11:22 am

ROME, Aug 13, 2010 (AFP) – Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano said Friday he was against early elections after a rift opened in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government coalition, as they could hamper the economic recovery.

“We have seen recent positive and encouraging signs of a productive recovery and a return to growth in Italy even as the world scenario remains difficult,” Napolitano said in an interview published on left-wing daily L’Unita.

“But I wonder, what could happen to this country if we head towards a political void and towards a brutal electoral clash?” Napolitano asked.

Italy’s economic output grew by 0.4 percent both in the first and second quarter of 2010, and it is expected to grow by 1.1 percent by the end of the year.

Berlusconi, 73, lost his once-comfortable parliamentary majority last month when lower house speaker Gianfranco Fini ended a 16-year alliance with him, leaving the People of Freedom (PDL) party.

Fini’s supporters set up breakaway parliamentary groups of 33 deputies and 10 senators.

Napolitano acknowledged the “serious political conflict within the coalition that won the 2008 elections, within the government coalition” that has fueled speculation about possible early elections in November or in early next year.

Berlusconi has said his government will face a crucial test of strength in September in the form of a confidence vote.

If the vote brings down the government, Napolitano will poll parliamentary group leaders on the possibility of forming a transitional government, failing which he will dissolve parliament and call elections.

“My institutional responsibilities will come into play only when it becomes clear in parliament that the majority has dissolved,” Napolitano said.

The president also invited Berlusconi’s camp to stop calling for Fini’s resignation as lower house speaker.

“It is time to end the institutionally very de-stabilising campaign that aims to take away legitimacy from the president of a branch of parliament,” Napolitano said.

“It is the time to lower tones… and look at the country that needs answers to its problems rather than showdowns and threatening proclamations,” he said.

Il Giornale, a daily owned by the Berlusconi family, has questioned the propriety of the sale of a house in Monaco by Fini’s former party, the National Alliance, which merged with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia into the PDL in 2008.

On Friday, Il Giornale devoted its first seven pages to Fini’s involvment in the sale and said it had collected 50,000 signatures calling for his resignation.

Berlusconi and Fini have been at odds since a public spat in April — largely over legislation that would help Berlusconi avoid prosecution on corruption and tax fraud charges — ahead of their dramatic split late last month.

Source: SGGP

Huge ice island could pose threat to oil, shipping

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

An island of ice more than four times the size of Manhattan is drifting across the Arctic Ocean after breaking off from a glacier in Greenland.

Potentially in the path of this unstoppable giant are oil platforms and shipping lanes — and any collision could do untold damage. In a worst case scenario, large chunks could reach the heavily trafficked waters where another Greenland iceberg sank the Titanic in 1912.

It’s been a summer of near biblical climatic havoc across the planet, with wildfires, heat and smog in Russia and killer floods in Asia. But the moment the Petermann glacier cracked last week — creating the biggest Arctic ice island in half a century — may symbolize a warming world like no other.

This combination of two satellite images provided by NASA and taken on July 28, 2010, at left, and Aug. 5, 2010, at right, shows the Petermann Glacier in Northern Greenland

“It’s so big that you can’t prevent it from drifting. You can’t stop it,” said Jon-Ove Methlie Hagen, a glaciologist at the University of Oslo.

Few images can capture the world’s climate fears like a 100-square- mile (260-sqare-kilometer) chunk of ice breaking off Greenland’s vast ice sheet, a reservoir of freshwater that if it collapsed would raise global sea levels by a devastating 20 feet (6 meters).

The world’s newest ice island already is being used as a powerful emblem in the global warming debate, with U.S. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts suggesting it could serve as a home for climate change skeptics.

Researchers are in a scramble to plot the trajectory of the floating ice shelf, which is moving toward the Nares Strait separating Greenland’s northwestern coast and Canada’s Ellsemere Island.

If it makes it into the strait before the winter freeze — due to start next month — it would likely be carried south by ocean currents, hugging Canada’s east coast until it enters waters busy with oil activities and shipping off Newfoundland.

“That’s where it starts to become dangerous,” said Mark Drinkwater, of the European Space Agency.

The Canadian Ice Service estimates the journey will take one to two years. It’s likely to break up as it bumps into other icebergs and jagged islands. The fragments would be further ground down by winds and waves and would start to melt as they move into warmer waters.

“But the fragments may still be quite large,” warned Trudy Wohlleben, a Canadian ice forecaster, who first spotted the massive chunk of ice on satellite images last Thursday.

The chunks of ice could be large enough to threaten Canada’s offshore platforms in the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, said Wohlleben.

And, while it’s possible to redirect smaller icebergs, by towing them or spraying them with water cannons, “I don’t think they could do that with an iceberg this large,” she said. “They would have to physically move the rig.”

Moving an offshore platform is time-consuming and expensive — and very complicated in cases where they are fixed to the ocean floor.

While Greenland’s glaciers break off thousands of icebergs into Arctic waters every year, scientists say this ice island is the biggest in the northern hemisphere since 1962.

It contains enough freshwater to keep the Hudson River flowing for more than two years, said Andreas Muenchow of the University of Delaware.

The drifting ice sheet is likely to remain at the heart of the global warming discussion during its journey.

While experts say it’s difficult to directly tie the giant ice island to climate change because there are so many factors that affect glaciers in the area, the unusual event coincides with worrisome signs of warming in the Arctic.

Since 1970, temperatures have risen more than 4.5 degrees (2.5 degrees C) in much of the Arctic — much faster than the global average. In June the Arctic sea ice cover was at the lowest level for that month since records began in 1979, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The retreat of Greenland’s glaciers, which has accelerated in recent years, is one of the least understood pieces of the climate puzzle.

A team of climate scientists who visited the Petermann glacier last year, expecting it to crack then, is now planning another trip within weeks.

“We did leave behind a couple of time-lapse cameras and 11 GPS (devices). Now we are scrambling to get up there and recover the data,” said Jason Box, an expert on Greenland glaciers from the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University.

Box and two British researchers traveled to the glacier last year with Greenpeace activists who offered space aboard their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, to scientists studying climate change.

They were hoping to capture the event with cameras rolling, which would have been a powerful image just months before the Copenhagen climate talks that failed to produce a binding treaty to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions.

“It would have been nice if it had broken off last year,” said Melanie Duchin, who led that Greenpeace expedition. “I mean ice melting, it doesn’t get any simpler than that.”

Still, she finds it ironic that the Petermann breakup coincides with another catastrophe linked to fossil fuels. The Arctic Sunrise is now in the Gulf of Mexico, surveying the massive oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Source: SGGP

Venezuela could restore ties with new Colombian president

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 7:18 am

MONTEVIDEO, July 27, 2010 (AFP) – Venezuela said Tuesday it sees the possibility of restoring ties with Colombia if the new president taking office in Bogota next month adopts a less hostile tone.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, speaking during a visit to Montevideo, opened the door to improved relations after Colombia’s president-elect Juan Manuel Santos, takes over from Alvaro Uribe on August 7.

“If the new Colombian government fully rectifies (its position) and adopts a posture of absolute respect for Venezuela’s government and out country, we are sure we can build a new path,” Maduro said.

The comments came after days of an escalating diplomatic row that saw the two South American neighbors break off relations over Bogota’s accusations that Venezuela was harboring leftist guerrillas engaged in a decades-long battle against the Colombian government.

Customs officers inspect a truck crossing the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge that connects Colombia with Venezuela, in Cucuta, Colombia on July 27, 2010. AFP

Maduro’s stop in Uruguay was the third on a diplomatic tour of the region, which has included Brazil and Paraguay. He is due for talks in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia before arriving in Ecuador for a meeting of foreign ministers of the regional body Unasur.

Maduro has indicated he would offer a “peace plan,” the details of which have not been specified, for what he said was 60 years of conflict in Colombia and which has spilled over to Venezuela.

In Bogota, Uribe dismissed the notion of a peace plan from Caracas, saying it could be a ruse to “loosen the grip of the snake” without ensuring security for his country.

“We’re not going to fall into that trap,” he said.

“We are asking the international community to follow the same standards we are following: fighting terrorism and not allowing it to take root anywhere.”

Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said meanwhile in an interview with Ecuadoran television that the new government in Bogota may find it easier to deal with the question but that the current government must live up to its responsibility.

“Our political and constitutional responsibility continues until August 7,” he said.

Source: SGGP

BP boss ‘could resign within days’

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 11:17 am

The boss of troubled oil giant BP, Tony Hayward, is poised to quit within days, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported.

Hayward, who has been heavily criticised over his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis, is set to step down before BP announces its half-year results Tuesday, the paper said.

The boss of troubled oil giant BP, Tony Hayward, is poised to quit within days, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported

Reports have suggested for days that Hayward would resign at some point in the coming weeks as British-based BP battles to recover its reputation in the wake of the spill.

The Sunday Telegraph said that there could be wrangling over Hayward’s severance package, under which he is likely to be paid a minimum figure just over a million pounds.

BP has said that Hayward “has the support of the board and management” but has declined to make further comment on media reports.

Source: SGGP

Stormy conditions could hamper Gulf oil spill cleanup

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Tropical Storm Alex headed toward the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, but while it was not expected to hit the oil spill area, experts warned strong waves and winds could hamper clean-up efforts there.

Workers remove a palm shade from the beach in preparation for the arrival of tropical storm Alex as winds begin to increase in Mahaual, Mexico, Saturday

With oil continually gushing into the fragile waters for the past 68 days, President Barack Obama’s pointman on the disaster cautioned that volatile weather conditions could set back oil recovery operations for up to two weeks.

Meanwhile, Alex dumped heavy rains over the Yucatan peninsula before moving back into the Gulf later Sunday. Its forecast track meant BP could continue its process without disruption, for now.

“The storm is not an issue for the spill,” said National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen.

Feltgen said forecasters did not expect Alex to head into the northeast Gulf, where the spill is located, “but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some wave impact.”

Early Sunday, the storm packed sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) an hour, down from 60 miles (95 kilometers) an hour late Saturday, as it swirled 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of Chetumal, Mexico, the center said.

It was expected to weaken later Sunday, but regain some punch as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico by nightfall.

“We are very pleased that there is no weather impact right now,” BP spokesman Ron Rybarczyk told AFP on Saturday.

But while the latest forecasts had BP breathing a sigh of relief, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen sounded the alarm about the potential for a devastating impact to efforts to contain and siphon off the oil.

“The weather is unpredictable, and we could have a sudden last-minute change,” said Allen, telling reporters that oil recovery operations would have to be suspended for two weeks if Alex, the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, were to hit the area.

Such a stoppage would exacerbate the spill that has defiled the Gulf Coast’s once pristine shorelines, killed wildlife and put a big dent in the region’s multi-billion-dollar fishing industry.

It would also mean the estimated 30,000 to 65,000 barrels of oil gushing from a ruptured wellhead down on the seafloor would be billowing crude and gas unchecked for days.

An estimated 1.9 to 3.5 million barrels (80 to 150 million gallons) have poured into the Gulf since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20.

Allen said vessels currently recuperating some of the oil and gas would need up to 120 hours to evacuate the site if weather conditions were deemed dire enough.

“If we get an indication that we have a chance for gale-force winds 120 hours before, we’ll make the decision,” he added before noting that “right now, we haven’t met that threshold.”

BP said it recovered 24,550 barrels of oil on Friday, a 3.5 percent increase from its Thursday total, and collected approximately 413,000 barrels since May.

Still, hundreds of demonstrators came to Manatee County, Florida, beaches Saturday to protest offshore oil drilling and support clean energy strategies advocated by President Obama.

About 350 people formed a human chain at Manatee Public Beach, according to local officials.

“We grew up coming to these beaches, and we want to make sure future generations – like my daughter, here – have a place like this to come to,” said local resident Joshua Spaid.

BP’s shares meanwhile hit a 13-year low in London trading after BP ramped up the costs of the spill so far to 2.35 billion dollars. The company’s share values have been cut by more than half since the disaster that killed 11 workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in US history.

The British energy giant said its plans to drill through 2.5 miles (four kilometers) of rock were on track. No permanent solution to the spill is expected before the relief wells are due to be completed in August.

Heavy drilling fluids would then be pumped into the existing well to drown the oil flow, allowing it to be plugged for good with cement.

Vice President Joe Biden heads to the region on Tuesday and is due to visit the New Orleans-based National Incident Command Center before traveling to the Florida panhandle.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Carol Browner, who heads the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, will also visit.

In Toronto, Canada, Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron held their first face-to-face talks ahead of a G20 leaders’ summit and agreed BP should “remain a strong and stable company,” Downing Street said.

A still image from a live BP video feed shows oil gushing on June 23 from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s containment system was removed for repairs when a robotic submarine crashed into it.


Source: SGGP

Whaling could blow a hole in Iceland’s EU talks

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2010 at 8:30 am

BRUSSELS, June 20, 2010 (AFP) – Iceland’s whale hunting tradition despite a ban, which it wants lifted, looms as a major hurdle in its upcoming membership talks with the European Union where all cetaceans are legally protected.

The EU membership talks haven’t started yet, but a European diplomat stressed that “if Iceland continues to practise commercial whale hunting for scientific purposes, that’s going to create a political problem.”

In nearly all areas Iceland has been seen as a perfect EU candidate, and could have started talks earlier had it wanted to.

In a picture taken on June 16, 2010 in Japan, sushi shop owner Katsuji Furuuchi makes up whale sushi from sliced minke meats and pieces of blubber in Japanese whaling town Ayukawahama, Miyagi prefecture. Ayukawahama was once a major whaling port. AFP

Its European credentials are impressive already; a member of the unfettered travel Schengen area and the European Economic Area as well as a fully fledged NATO nation, Iceland ticks most of the boxes.

In trade terms the ties are equally strong, more than half of Iceland’s imports come from the EU and three-quarters of its exports go there.

All those factors are reasons why European heads of state and government gave the candidacy the go-ahead at an EU summit in Brussels last Thursday.

However a February report by the EU Commission on Iceland’s application for membership was clear: “Necessary steps will need to be undertaken as regards the protection of cetaceans”.

Britain and Germany have urged their EU partners to resist a call, expected at an International Whaling Commission meeting in Morocco this week, to lift the moratorium on whale hunting which has Iceland’s support and that of fellow whaling nations Japan and Norway.

The German parliament in a resolution has urged the government to ensure that a whale hunting ban remains a sine qua non for Iceland’s EU hopes.

An Icelandic diplomat said his country had applied to join the club, after the global downturn battered its economy, knowing a solution will have to be found, but not thinking that solution must necessarily be an end to whale hunting.

“Iceland would as a starting negotiating position seek a way to maintain this exception in order to preserve this centuries old, sustainable tradition,” he said.

“We are aware that this is a very sensitive topic,” an EU Commission spokeswoman said, citing the EU accession rule of “possible transitional periods or even derogation from some pieces of the (EU) legislation.”

Icelandic hunters specialise in taking the fin whale, with a quota of 150 this year.

The country resumed commercial whaling in 2006, and in 2009 set a quota for 150 fin whales, the second largest animals, over five years, despite their “endangered” status, according to WWF.

Not only is that against EU rules but it is “also unnecessary,” argues Saskia Richartz, marine specialist for Greenpeace in Brussels.

“Most of the 1,500 tonnes of meat produced last year continue to sit in freezers,” she adds.

Icelandic political scientist Eirikur Bergmann agrees that whaling is not important for its economic contribution.

“It‘s more a matter of independence and emotions, nationalism.”

And in Iceland opinions are divided, according to Arni Thor Sigurdsson, chair of the Icelandic parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I personally don‘t think we should do it because it doesn‘t help our economy in any way,” he said.

What is sure is that the matter will have to be addressed as Iceland attempts to negotiate the 30-plus accession chapters, including one on the environment, which all candidate nations must do to the satisfaction of the current EU members.

Nor is whaling the only potential pitfall.

Indeed fisheries in general were already being seen as a major sticking point after EU leaders on Thursday agreed to grant Iceland candidate nation status.

The part-Arctic nation is fiercely protective of the abundant fishing waters around its shores and has shown no sign that it is prepared to freely open up these seas to European partners.

Britain and the Netherlands also want Reykjavik to negotiate a compensation deal for their citizens hit by the fall of the online Icesave bank in October 2008.

“If whaling becomes the main obstacle, then we‘ll just have to reconsider the whole process,” said Sigurdsson.

The European Union expects Iceland to reconsider the whaling, rather than the membership.

Source: SGGP

Kyrgyzstan crisis could affect up to one million people: WHO

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

 The World Health Organisation said Friday that it was working on a worst-case estimate that the crisis in Kyrgyzstan may affect up to one million people, about a third of whom could be refugees.

Uzbeks houses were destroyed in the ethnic clash in Kyrgyztan.

“We are working with a planning figure of one million people that have been directly or indirectly affected by this event — 300,000 of them… refugees,” said Giuseppe Annunziata, WHO coordinator for emergency programme support.

The UN health agency official confirmed when asked that the figures were a “worst-case scenario”, and that the remaining 700,000 are people who could be displaced within Kyrgyzstan by the conflict.

At the moment, up to 100,000 people have already sought refuge in neighbouring Uzbekistan, not counting children, while about 300,000 are thought to be internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

A spokeswoman for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Christiane Berthiaume, said the aid planning figure of one million would include assistance for families in both countries who have given shelter to those who have fled.

Annunziata also pointed to unconfirmed reports from different sources that some ethnic Uzbek women had been “subject to gender-based violence.”

“Unfortunately there are atrocities that have been reported targetting the Uzbek minorities in Kyrgyzstan,” said Annunziata, adding that there were cases of rapes reported by women who have sought refuge in Uzbekistan.

The official said that the key focus of the agency was therefore on the health needs of these women, as well as of the elderly people and children who had been affected by the violence.

Berthiaume added that 90 percent of people who fled to Uzbekistan were women and children who are in “a very bad physical and psychological condition.”

“Many have witnessed or have suffered acts of violence, there are thousands of families who have been separated, they have to be reunited,” she told journalists.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the situation in the conflict-hit southern part of the country remains volatile. “The tension is very high. There is a lot of sporadic violence, a lot of aggression. It’s very volatile and we are very concerned about the safety of the people who are still barricaded in Osh,” said OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs.

“They have been joined by some people fleeing villages, they are barricaded and they have no access or they don’t want to go out to have access to medical treatment,” added the spokeswoman.

The UN refugee agency’s spokesman Andrej Mahecic also noted that access for aid workers to the population in need was “extremely difficult and limited.”

Two UNHCR planes carrying 80 tonnes of relief items are expected to arrive in Osh, with the first carrying 800 tents to land on Saturday and the second carrying other relief items to arrive on Sunday, he said.

The United Nations is to launch an appeal later Friday for the displaced population in Kyrgyzstan and another appeal would be made next week for Uzbekistan, which is hosting most of the refugees.

Source: SGGP