§ John Barrett
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. 
Mr. Gareth Thomas
Uzbekistan closed its border with the Kyrgyz Republic in January 2003. It was done, according to the Uzbeks, to protect Uzbekistan from cheap Kyrgyz goods. It has had a severe impact on the livelihoods of people living near the border. Cross-border trade has declined, although smuggling, by bribing border officials, has increased dramatically. Families living on either side of the border are separated from their relatives. Some 20 Uzbek citizens, mainly women, have drowned while attempting to cross the border river at Kara Suu. Uzbek border guards along the 1100km border have shot several Uzbek and Kyrgyz citizens. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry continues to issue protest notes to Uzbekistan.
Several Kyrgyz and Uzbek NGOs have recently started a project on reducing tension in border areas. International organizations and donors working on cross-border issues include OSCE, USAID, UNDP, Mercy Corps, ICG, ICRC, IOM.