Osh, Dzhalal-Abad rebuild after June’s unrest

Homeless hope to have roofs over their heads before winter

By Erkin Kamalov

2010-09-01

OSH – People whose homes were destroyed during interethnic clashes are concerned whether they will have housing when winter comes. Local authorities have pledged they will.

Uktamkhon-apa, 67, lost her adult son and home in the June riots: “My house was on Pamirskaya Street in the Furkat neighbourhood. There’s nothing left but bare black walls.”

Several commissions have visited the site, promising to rebuild her house.

“I ... go to sleep in a tent where fire victims like me are taking refuge,” Uktamkhon-apa said, wiping away tears.

“Our life is really hard,” a middle-aged woman named Odina said. “I had to send my sons to Russia and stay here waiting for help.”

The women are not sure they can return to their homes before winter sets in.

Kyrgyzstan pledges housing by winter – even if it's temporary

But authorities have assured the victims they will not be left out on the street. Vice-Premier Zhantoro Satybaldiyev, head of the State Directorate for the Reconstruction of Osh and Dzhalal-Abad, said it is planning to build 1,836 houses.

“We have laid the foundation for ... transitional residential areas,” he said. “We are on schedule and in line with the plan, but if the cold season comes early, fire victims will have to live in mobile homes for a while.”

Rebuilding nearly 2,000 houses and other buildings destroyed in June’s unrest in southern Kyrgyzstan will cost US $500m. International funds will help finance the reconstruction of houses in Osh and Dzhalal-Abad oblasts.

“We continue cleaning up the areas where houses burned down,” Osh First Deputy Mayor Taalai Sabirov said. “This is part of a public works project involving the jobless that helps to partially solve the unemployment problem.”

The UNHCR program in Osh, which involves nearly 1,000 people earning 300 KGS (US $6.50) per day, will cost 9.9m KGS (US $212,900), Sabirov said.

The plan is to build 450 houses in Dzhalal-Abad Oblast and 900 in Osh Oblast, UNHCR southern Kyrgyzstan representative Natalia Prokopchuk said. The houses are being built where the destroyed ones used to stand.

“We have approved the blueprints of a 40-sq.-m two-room brick house that takes four to five weeks to build,” she said. “Larger families may claim additional floor space, which will be decided individually. Housing and building materials will be provided to the fire victims for free, with no need to repay any loans.”

The clearing of debris and construction waste is continuing, and hundreds of lots in Dzhalal-Abad, Osh and elsewhere in the two regions are ready for new construction, Prokopchuk said.

Building materials – sand, gravel, cement, steel and lumber purchased from various regions of Kyrgyzstan – have been delivered to Osh since August 25, according to the UNHCR.

Kyrgyz are grateful for aid

Uktamkhon-apa is thankful for all the help.

“They are feeding us, and each family has received blankets, mattresses, kitchen utensils, buckets and basins. It’s better than nothing – we didn’t have the money to purchase all those things.”

In a special decision August 19, the interim government ruled that all victims must be offered long-term loans on favourable terms to pay for the construction or restoration of housing.

“Loans of up to 200,000 KGS (US $4,301) for building houses of up to 100 sq. m,” the decision said, “are to be provided on terms of the borrower’s co-financing and to be repaid over the next 20 years, with up to a three-year payment delay and with a provision for collateral.”

The decision allows partial loan repayment by deliveries of high-quality building materials and units at the victim’s expense, as well as one’s own construction of a house under proper technical oversight and in line with the agreement concluded between the State Directorate and the borrower.

“If someone refuses to co-finance the construction or restoration of a house through a long-term loan on favourable terms, he or she may be offered a grant of 50,000 KGS (US $1,075),” the government decision said.

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