About the Author: Andrew B. Paul is serving temporarily in the Public Affairs Section at U.S. Embassy Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. He is permanently assigned to U.S. Embassy Warsaw in Poland as the Information Officer.“Operation Provide Hope” recently arrived in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, with shipment of aid -- $2.7 million worth of medical supplies requested by the Kyrgyz Republic Ministry of Health -- donated by U.S. companies. With our partner organizations, Counterpart International and CitiHope, we are working to distribute the supplies.
As the unloading proceeded, I spoke with Counterpart's country director for Kyrgyzstan, Bibira Akmoldoeva. We discussed the recent events that led to the need for this vital aid. She expressed gratitude for the arrival of the humanitarian aid, as well as sorrow for what had befallen her country in recent days. Despite the current conflict, she expressed optimism that Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the south of Kyrgyzstan would overcome the recent wave of violence.
She recounted her recent visits to hospitals in Osh, where she said that Kyrgyz and Uzbek victims of violence both expressed disbelief that such upheaval had happened in their country, in their communities. Many were confused about whom or what caused the violence. She pointed out how many blamed outsiders, or at least not the people in their neighborhoods, and most just expressed hope for a return to normalcy.
Distributing the aid is not always free of violence either. I spoke with a delivery driver who distributes aid. He pointed out bullet holes on the side and front of the truck that occurred from a shooting a week earlier. There was also damage on the passenger side, where his colleague had been injured while riding with him to deliver aid supplies. Even after an experience like that, he continues to deliver the supplies, because he believes it is an important service to help people.
After the unloading was completed, Valentina, the Ministry of Health representative, expressed hope that the current conflict will end soon and asked me to visit again.
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