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Kyrgyzstan: Homeless Demonstrate For Improved Living Conditions

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; 15 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Some 200 mostly homeless young people demonstrated in Bishkek's old central square today to demand improved living conditions and a special government commission on the needs of the homeless.

They also protested the refusal of Bishkek's mayor, Boris Silayev, to meet with them.

First Deputy Prime Minister Abdyjapar Tagaev came to the square and promised to help the homeless.

Demonstration organizers told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek that they formed a committee at the meeting and that they demanded the government consult this committee. A special government project should be set up to resolve the problems of the homeless over the next 10 to 15 years, organizers said.

Several makeshift settlements have appeared around Bishkek over the last ten years. Living conditions are very poor, with no fresh water or electricity. The settlements have grown steadily as rural youth move to Bishkek. Living conditions in rural areas are even worse than in the capital.

The government has promised to help the homeless. It created a special business project, called Ashar, to benefit them, but it is short of funds.