Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Remaking Life in South Kyrgyzstan

Images reflect slow pace of recovery in Osh.
  • In a carefree moment, an Uzbek girl plays with a ball on the streets of Osh, February 2011. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    In a carefree moment, an Uzbek girl plays with a ball on the streets of Osh, February 2011. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • An Uzbek family burned out of their house in Osh. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    An Uzbek family burned out of their house in Osh. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • This Kyrgyz man and his family lost their home during the June violence and are now living in a former youth summer camp on the outskirts of Osh. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    This Kyrgyz man and his family lost their home during the June violence and are now living in a former youth summer camp on the outskirts of Osh. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Uzbeks from Osh’s old town, now trying to maintain a semblance of normality in a tent. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Uzbeks from Osh’s old town, now trying to maintain a semblance of normality in a tent. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Salvaging goods from the wreckage. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Salvaging goods from the wreckage. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Picking out window bars that can be reused. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Picking out window bars that can be reused. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Keeping a household going is tough when so much has been destroyed. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Keeping a household going is tough when so much has been destroyed. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Fetching water. Children are expected to help around the home. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Fetching water. Children are expected to help around the home. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • A makeshift open-air stove. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    A makeshift open-air stove. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Three generations at prayer. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Three generations at prayer. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Football among half-ruined buildings. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Football among half-ruined buildings. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Playing with a tame dove. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Playing with a tame dove. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Trading at Osh’s central market is still slack compared with a year ago. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Trading at Osh’s central market is still slack compared with a year ago. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • A child with a piece of twisted metal from a wrecked home. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    A child with a piece of twisted metal from a wrecked home. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
  • Rebuilding trust will take a long time. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)
    Rebuilding trust will take a long time. (Photo: Igor Kovalenko)

Eight months after their lives were torn apart by ethnic violence, people in and around Osh and Jalalabad in southern Kyrgyzstan are still struggling with the practicalities of rebuilding their homes as well as with the psychological trauma.

These pictures, taken in February 2011, show scenes from the daily lives of Uzbek and Kyrgyz families who lived through the clashes in the sprawling city of Osh.

An investigation into the violence over several days in June 2010 found that 426 deaths had been verified, of which 276 had been identified as Uzbek and 105 Kyrgyz, while 2,200 people sustained injuries.

Thousands of homes and businesses were looted and torched, apparently not on a random basis, but after they were selected because of the ethnicity of their owners. The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR calculated that 2,000 private houses were damaged and 1,700 completely destroyed. The central market serving the whole of Osh was also devastated, and business has not yet recovered to where it was before the fighting broke out.

The authorities in Kyrgyzstan say immediate rebuilding work will take at least two years and cost half a million US dollars, while full recovery in the region could take up to a decade. They say they have a clear plan for reconstructing damaged areas of Osh and Jalalabad, but residents complain that help has been slow in coming. The slow pace of economic recovery coupled with the perception of continuing instability is prompting a steady exodus of people, many of them ethnic Uzbeks but also some Kyrgyz.

Inter-communal tensions remain, and people interviewed by IWPR for our recent report Deep Rifts Remain in Conflict-Torn Kyrgyz South said the sense of separation was feeding mistrust and suspicion, and was one of the factors holding backeconomic recovery.

Saule Mukhametrakhimova is IWPR's Central Asian editor based in London. Igor Kovalenko is a photographer in Kyrgyzstan.

This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Foreign Ministry of Norway.