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Feature: Timely help warms hearts of Chinese fleeing violence-hit Kyrgyzstan

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 1:27 PM

BISHKEK, Jun. 15, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- The most often heard phrases at the Osh airport when Chinese met Chinese in the past few days were "thanks to the motherland."

Gratitude was spontaneous and heartfelt in these Chinese, mostly trades people doing business in southern Kyrgyzstan, who are being evacuated by government-chartered flights.

The flights not only arrived in time but were free of charge for the Chinese who were stranded amidst domestic violence in Kyrgyzstan that has already claimed more than 170 lives.

Wang Qiongying, from China's Fujian province, could not help sobbing while thanking the Chinese government and embassy officials for providing meals. During the past couple of days she could only make do with a single meal a day.

Alken, a businessman from China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, confirmed the lack of food in the riots-stricken city of Osh, where some of the Chinese businessmen could only have a dried pancake as a whole day's portion in the past few days.

Alken said he would never forget what the government had provided him with when he was in dire need of it.

"I've realized what kind of a backup we Chinese have when in time of need," he said at the Osh airport while waiting for take-off. "I feel ties strengthened with the motherland."

The Chinese government chartered two Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737-700s to fly out the stranded Chinese nationals from Osh.

The first plane arrived at Osh on Monday afternoon and Chinese diplomats even requested military escorts from the Kyrgyz government so as to safely whisk the Chinese from the hotel they were staying to the airport.

The Chinese diplomats suffered from cuts on their arms caused by broken glass when the bus they were travelling in were shot at by unidentified gunmen during an ambush.

According to airport staff at Osh, there were increased sorties of evacuation flights from Monday on when planes from different countries arrived.

Swarms of Pakistanis, Indians, Turkmens, Kazakhs and Russians were also waiting at the airport where over 1,000 students from Turkmenistan alone were left stranded.

There are 200 Chinese doing business at Osh and 600 more Chinese doing business at Karasu, some 40 km away from Osh.

According to Wang Kaiwen, a Chinese embassy official, the Chinese evacuation contingent had been focusing on how to safely ferry those 600 Chinese from Karasu to the airport.

So far, three evacuation flights with some 400 Chinese business people had left Osh for China with stopovers in Bishkek.

Wang said the embassy had been keeping close contact with the Chinese business people at Osh and near Osh, so as to efficiently arrange for the evacuation.

The Kyrgyz interim government already declared a state of emergency and imposed curfews on Osh and Jalalabad, and even granted shoot-to-kill powers to troops and police in an effort to quell the riots.

An estimated 80,000 people were forced to flee their homes from southern Kyrgyzstan since clashes broke out last Thursday.

Clashes first broke out at an Osh casino where Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths threw themselves into a frenzied brawl, which soon turned into hate crimes against shops, stores and residences.

The violence has killed 178 people, and left 1,866 injured, according to the latest figure from the Kyrgyz Health Ministry.

Neighboring Uzbekistan claimed to have taken in 45,000 refugees from Kyrgyzstan.

UN special envoy Miroslav Jenca warned on Tuesday that the number of Kyrgyz refugees fleeing to Uzbekistan could reach 100,000.

(Source: iStockAnalyst )


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