Bishkek (Agenzia Fides) – “We draw comfort and consolation that in this situation of suffering and trial, the people of Kyrgyzstan are in the thoughts and the prayers of the Pope. We Catholics are a tiny flock which, in these times, continues to pray for peace and for the good of the country. The presence of Caritas helps us feel the solidarity of the universal Church ”: this was part of a statement sent to Fides by Bishop Nikolaus Messmer, Apostolic Administrator of Kyrgyzstan, following Pope's Benedict XVI's words at the Angelus on Sunday 20 June. The Pope made a "pressing appeal for peace and security to be restored in southern Kyrgyzstan" and called on the international community “to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the affected people”. We sense the closeness of the universal Church. The Holy Father makes us realise that we are not alone" Bishop Messmer told Fides.
In Kyrgyzstan, according to the Red Cross, “there is a immense crisis” in which killed 191 people have been killed and 2000 injured, according official figures after a week of ethnic clashes in the south of the country, between Uzbeks and Kirgiz. However the estimated figures could be “ten times higher ” according to the head of government ad interim, Rosa Otunbayeva.
There are about 400,000 displaced persons: many without water, food, shelter or assistance. According to the World Health Organization, the number of displaced persons could rise in a short time to one million: 700,000 are displaced within the country and another 300,000 have reached the Uzbekistan border. The United Nations has made an appeal for 71 million dollars to “avoid a humanitarian catastrophe" in Kyrgyzstan.
With regard to the difficult situation Bishop Messmer told Fides: “A humanitarian effort would seem to be producing the first fruits. Aid is arriving by land and by air, mainly in the cities of Jalalabad and Osh which are close to the villages most in need. Caritas Internationalis has mobilised: Caritas teams have come from Pakistan, also Catholic Relief Service (Caritas USA) and Caritas Germania: concrete gestures of solidarity from the universal Church. Also present and active, NGOs, the International Red Cross and Doctors without Frontiers. Refugees are receiving water, food and supplies of electricity for survival. On behalf of all we thank the many people working to provide humanitarian assistance”.
The Bishop concludes: “We pray and we hope peace will be restored. It is necessary to build peace: we ourselves here in Kyrgyzstan must begin to build peace. Our political leaders must give priority to dialogue and peace, essential for the common good. For our part, we will pray and ask for the assistance of the Holy Spirit for a future of reconciliation and wellbeing in the country”. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/06/2010)