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Uzbekistan: Andijon Refugees In Romania Have Escaped Violence, But Not Heartache

Uzbek refugees across the border in Kyrgyzstan more than a month after the mid-May violence (file photo) (RFE/RL) Six months have passed since the bloody events in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon. The use of force by Uzbek security forces to quell a 13 May antigovernment uprising is believed to have left hundreds dead, including many civilians. Hundreds of others fled the country out of fear; most sought refuge in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. In July, 439 Uzbeks who had escaped to Kyrgyzstan were transferred to Romania. Their transfer followed a diplomatic battle between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz authorities that also involved the United Nations and some Western governments. RFE/RL reports on the lives of some of these refugees, who are living in a temporary camp in the Romanian city of Timisoara.

Prague, 10 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Ismoiljon's birth on 23 October in a refugee camp in the western Romanian city of Timisoara was a moment of joy for his mother, Roziya, and the other Uzbek refugees in Romania.

Nineteen-year-old Roziya was pregnant when the shooting started on Andijon's central square on 13 May. She fled to Kyrgyzstan with her mother and mother-in-law and many other Andijon residents. She and 438 other refugees were transferred to Romania in late July, where most are still awaiting a UN decision on their final destination.

Roziya says the whole camp celebrated the baby's birth: "When I delivered my baby, they took very good care of me in a hospital. When I was leaving, all the people from the camp came and stood in rows. I can recall everything very well because it was unforgettable. They were holding presents and flowers and also video cameras in their hands. I didn't expect anything like that. People from the UN office and also Romanians were there, too."

The baby's grandmother says they named the boy Ismoiljon in memory of Roziya's brother-in-law, who died in the Andijon violence.

"While we were in Kyrgyzstan, a relative of Roziya's husband visited us and said her husband's younger brother Abdulhafiz and elder brother Ismoiljon were shot dead on 13 May," says Ismoiljon's grandmother. "In Ismoiljon's memory, we gave the same name to the baby. Ismoiljon was a very kind and intelligent person. We want the baby to be like him."

Camp Conditions

Roziya and the other Andijon refugees live in three, one-story buildings used by the country's immigration service on the outskirts of Timisoara. Women and children live separately from the men. The UNHCR's office in Romania provides them with food and clothing.

Thirty-three-year-old Dilshod says conditions are good in the camp.

"We built stoves and cook there every day. We use beef, sometimes we kill a sheep," Dilshod says. "We don't have any problems. We are very grateful to the Romanian people for accepting us."

The refugees speak often of their gratitude to the Romanian people, as well as to the United Nations. Only after numerous questions do they start to speak about some of their concerns -- mostly about the family members they left behind in Uzbekistan.

No Word On Loved Ones

Dilshod's wife and three children are still in Andijon. He and 37-year-old Bahrom long to hear from their loved ones.

"It's been five months. We haven't heard from our families yet," Bahrom says. "I have five children. The youngest is 5 years old, the eldest is 15. How do they live these days? Do they go to school? Are they fed? I have no information about them."

The men in the camp say being idle gives them more time to worry about their futures and to be sad about their pasts, so they try to stay busy. They say it's easier for the women, who have the kids to look after. Two women with teaching experience work with school-age children in the camp.

The men in the group -- in an effort to express their gratitude to the Romanian people -- came up with an idea.

"Some [Romanian] villages were flooded," Dilshod explains. "We sent a letter to the government expressing our intention to help in reconstruction works. The authorities said they would consider the issue. If we get permission, we could help women, the elderly, and children who need help to rebuild their houses. We want to help. We don't want to be idle. We don't feel well when people are suffering."

State Of Limbo

Dilshod, a construction worker, and Bahrom, a carpenter, say their experience and skills could be useful.

But it looks like they will have to wait for their final resettlement before they can find jobs. UN officials say they won't have to wait much longer.

Twenty-five Uzbeks from the Timisoara camp have already been transferred to other European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands. Cristina Bunea, an assistant public-information officer with the UNHCR in Romania, tells RFE/RL that the goal is to have all refugees resettled in their countries of final destination by February, at the latest.

"This resettlement process is quite complicated, and each of the cases is assessed individually," Bunea says. "The proposed countries of resettlement are chosen according to [each] individual. So, basically, all of these kinds of things are taken care of."

In the meantime, Roziya tells RFE/RL, she wants to send the good news about her baby boy to her husband. He was in Andijon's central square on 13 May. They lost each other in the panicking crowd when the shooting started.

Roziya has neither seen nor heard from him since.

"I hope he is alive," she says.

(RFE/RL Uzbek Service correspondent Gofur Yuldoshev contributed to this report.)

Aftermath Of Andijon

Aftermath Of Andijon

A dedicated webpage bringing together all of RFE/RL's coverage of the events in Andijon, Uzbekistan, in May 2005 and their continuing repercussions.


An annotated timeline of the Andijon events and their repercussions.

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