ALMATY (Reuters) -- The United Nations has appealed for an emergency aid package to help the impoverished Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan survive energy shortages.
A power crisis in Kyrgyzstan, which hosts a U.S. military airbase, has raised concerns about stability in the country where the opposition has threatened to hold protests against President Kurmanbek Bakiev's policies.
The United Nations appealed for $20 million in emergency aid which, if fully funded, would provide food, shelter, and additional water supplies as well as backup power for hospitals in the mountainous nation of 5 million.
"Soaring food and fuel prices, adverse weather conditions, and declining remittances
further limited the purchasing power of the most vulnerable and contributed to a precarious food security situation for some," the United Nations said.
Kyrgyzstan relies on hydroelectric power for its electricity needs, but its key reservoir lacks water for the coming cold season. The former Soviet republic imports crucial foodstuffs and fuel, whose prices have soared this year.
One in five Kyrgyz households "is severely food insecure," the UN said, citing a World Food Program assessment.
Kyrgyzstan has been unstable since 2005 when riots ousted long-serving President Askar Akaev and brought Bakiev to power. The opposition has threatened a new wave of protests against Bakiev, accused of failing to tackle urgent bread-and-butter issues.