Tajik authorities have told the United Nations they will keep their borders open in case refugees from neighboring Kyrgyzstan, hit by interethnic violence, start fleeing across the border, a UN official said on Friday.
"The Tajik authorities have notified the United Nations that they are ready to help their Kyrgyz brothers if the situation worsens and people start crossing the border," said Ilija Todorovic, the representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
He said the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan was volatile and a certain number of refugees would probably move into Tajikistan.
"In any event, Tajikistan should make preparations to accept refugees from Kyrgyzstan," Todorovic said.
He added that UNHCR officers had recently visited northern parts of the country where they met with the local authorities and the representatives of all government agencies that would be involved in a refugee relief effort.
Violent clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups in southern Kyrgyzstan broke out in the city of Osh on June 11 and then spread to the neighboring Jalalabad region, leaving over 190 dead and more than 2,000 injured according to official figures. Kyrgyz leaders admit that the real figure of the dead could be 10 times higher.
The interim government introduced a state of emergency in several areas. Thousands of Uzbek refugees have fled to Uzbekistan. UNICEF said 90% of them are children, women and elderly people.
DUSHANBE, June 18 (RIA Novosti)