About the Author: Robert O. Blake serves as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.
After two days in Turkmenistan at our first Annual Bilateral Consultations (ABCs) with Turkmenistan, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael H. Posner and I arrived in Uzbekistan at a somber time due to the recent humanitarian crisis along Kyrgyzstan's southern border with Uzbekistan.
I had the opportunity to discuss the crisis with officials in Tashkent, as well as representatives of the UN agencies and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), who are the global first responders for these types of crises. The United States has also committed over $6.5 million to provide immediate humanitarian response and stabilization assistance and is prepared to make more resources available. Thus far, the international response has been strong, but it is clear there is much more to be done.
This morning I, along with Assistant Secretary Posner and U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan Richard Norland, had a sobering encounter with refugees near Andijan, a city in Uzbekistan's densely populated Ferghana Valley near the Kyrgyz border. The stories we heard were of atrocities that have no place in our 21st century world, a sobering reminder that ethnic differences can be exploited to horrific ends.
Nevertheless, in the midst of this crisis, one can also find a great deal of humanity. I was greatly impressed by the many stories of generosity as ordinary citizens offered assistance to the refugees. I want to commend the Government of Uzbekistan for reacting swiftly and constructively to receive more than 110,000 refugees and provide them with food, water, shelter, and medical care. Our official visit to Uzbekistan involved consultations with the government, civil society, and multilateral partners. This humanitarian crisis has greatly highlighted the need for close collaboration among those different parties in Uzbekistan.
The next post will feature Assistant Secretary Blake's visit to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.Related Content: Assistant Secretary Blake Travels to Uzbekistan and KyrgystanFollow the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on Facebook and Twitter.