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Fleeing for Freedom

Thousands of Uzbeks forced to flee Photo: AP
Thousands of Uzbeks forced to flee Photo: AP
 
Escalating violence Photo: Reuters
Escalating violence Photo: Reuters
 
 

Kyrgyzstan Jews make aliyah

Twelve members of country's small Jewish community flee deadly ethnic clashes, immigrate to Israel

Itamar Eichner
Published: 06.22.10, 07:29 / Israel Jewish Scene

Amid escalating riots against Uzbek minority in Kyrgyzstan, 12 Jews from Kyrgyzstan landed in Israel on Monday.

 

The immigrants were the first group to arrive since ethnic riots broke out in the country.

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The United Nations estimated that at least 400,000 Uzbeks fled their homes from fear of deadly riots. The interim president of Kyrgyzstan announced Sunday that approximately 2,000 people were killed in the battles thus far.

 

Because Israel does not have an embassy in Kyrgyzstan, the Foreign Ministry instructed the embassy in the neighboring country of Kazakhstan to contact the Jewish community and offer to help them leave the country.

 

The Jewish Agency also prepared an evacuation plan for the 1,200 member community, but according to information obtained by Israeli sources, most of the Jews in Kyrgyzstan are not willing to leave their country.


Destruction in Kyrgyzstan (Photo: AFP)

 

However, due to the recent escalation of violence, some in the small community began taking interest in making aliyah.

 

Director-General of the Jewish Agency's Department for Aliyah and Absorption Eli Cohen said two families and a few individuals arrived on Monday in Israel.

 

Cohen added that because riots were escalating from day to day, he predicts more immigrants would soon follow.

 

Danny Adino Ababa contributed to this report

 

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