AKIPRESS.COM - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Kyrgyzstan jointly convened the 5th annual high-level working group meeting to update the contingency plan for refugees.
Representatives of Defense Council, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Interior, State Committee for National Security, State Migration Service, State Border Service, State Agency for Local Self-Government and Interethnic Relations and other government agencies, as well as UN agencies participated in the annual review of the level of preparedness and established a working agenda for the next year.
“Preparedness for refugee influx is an important component of national security. Anyone can become a refugee and be torn apart from family,” Kubanychbek Oruzbayev, First Deputy Secretary of the Defense Council, noted in his opening statement. “Contingency planning is an important tool to properly care for the most vulnerable people. Even with limited resources, we can bring big results if we are motivated to work together.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan acceding to the 1951 Convention on Refugees and its Protocol. During the 20 years, the country has had to deal with multiple influxes of refugees from Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
“With support from UNHCR, we are making advances to further improve the coordination mechanism between government agencies in case of refugee influx,” said Adilet Januzakov from the Department of Defense, Law and Order, Emergency Situations of the Prime Minister’s Office. “This is not to say that refugee crisis will happen. But it is important to be prepared well in advance of any emergency.”
The contingency plan, which remains an internal document, lays out procedures to ensure proper reception at the border and the provision of essential services and commodities such as food, water, sanitation, shelter, health, education, registration, protection of children and from sexual and gender-based violence. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Emergency, emergency training has been held this year to include local self-government for the first time. The Ministry manages a joint stockpile with UNHCR, which has donated relief items worth over US$400,000.
“The world is never constant, and unfortunately, political developments and conflict often drive people to flee for their lives, as we are seeing in a large scale currently in other parts of the world. While we all appreciate and hope that the current stability in the Kyrgyz Republic and in the region will continue, it is also prudent to improve our preparedness capacity and coordination for humane reception at the border and assistance,” Maki Shinohara, UNHCR Representative in Kyrgyzstan, said.
As of 2017, the contingency preparedness and planning process is formally handed over to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, while continuing support will be provided through the UNHCR Regional Office in Almaty, Kazakhstan.