(Edited from AP, Osh) The humanitarian crisis in Kyrgyzstan entered a new phase Wednesday as relief agencies rushed to shift their aid to refugees returning to their burned and looted homes and warned of more widespread violence if they fail to dampen tensions.

Rampages by majority of Kyrgyz mobs that began June 10 killed hundreds of ethnic Uzbeks in the south of Kyrgyzstan, reducing entire Uzbek neighborhoods to scorched ruins, leaving hundreds dead and displacing as many as 400,000 of them.

(Edited from AP, Osh) The humanitarian crisis in Kyrgyzstan entered a new phase Wednesday as relief agencies rushed to shift their aid to refugees returning to their burned and looted homes and warned of more widespread violence if they fail to dampen tensions.

Rampages by majority of Kyrgyz mobs that began June 10 killed hundreds of ethnic Uzbeks in the south of Kyrgyzstan, reducing entire Uzbek neighborhoods to scorched ruins, leaving hundreds dead and displacing as many as 400,000 of them.

An estimated 100,000 Uzbeks fled across the border to Uzbekistan to live in hastily erected refugee camps, but according to Kyrgyz officials, 75,000 have now returned. Uzbeks complain that Kyrgyz authorities are not properly distributing millions of dollars in aid to them, and accuse the Kyrgyz military of being complicit in the violence.

U.N. and U.S. officials paid a visit Wednesday to the city of Osh, the epicenter of the violence where many neighborhoods were left in ruins, to prepare relief agencies for the long-term efforts of reconstruction and reconciliation, which they said would be the most difficult part of the aid mission.

Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said there is a major risk of violence erupting and even spreading across the region.

“Uzbeks fleeing to Uzbekistan and telling their stories could pose a threat of revenge attacks against the Kyrgyz in Uzbekistan,” Guterres told reporters.

“One of the reasons why it is so important to pacify this crisis is to avoid that this becomes a new Balkans.”

U.N. officials say the immediate threat of food and water shortages has largely abated, and emphasis has shifted to providing shelter to thousands of families before the arrival of winter. Six trucks of tents and other aid from Uzbek refugee camps, which have now all been closed, crossed the border into Kyrgyzstan Wednesday.

In the Kara-Suu district of Osh, tents provided by the UNHCR have been pitched up within the charred remains of Uzbek houses, allowing families to live on the sites of their former homes and begin the painstaking reconstruction effort.

The U.N. has appealed for $71 million in emergency assistance funds, in part to rebuild homes before winter sets in.

But Uzbeks huddled outside the husks of their homes complained that the Kyrgyz government was not distributing international aid to them. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz raised the issue with senior Kyrgyz officials during Wednesday’s visit, urging them to provide “fair and equal distribution of assistance.”

Kyrgyz officials countered with their own warning to international aid agencies to distribute aid to Kyrgyz as well, some of whose homes were also burned during the clashes in Osh, the country’s second-largest city.

“The wounds are still very fresh and far from healing, so if you give help only to one side, then the other side could see it as unjust,” said Aigul Ryskulova, Kyrgyzstan’s presidential coordinator for refugees and humanitarian aid.

The exchange underscored the complaints of the Uzbek community that Kyrgyz authorities were funneling assistance away from the places where it is needed most, a charge that has fueled distrust among the Uzbeks toward the Kyrgyz government.

The Uzbeks in Kara-Suu also said their men were being arbitrarily detained and beaten, sometimes to death, by Kyrgyz men in uniform.

“Just last night they took four of our men and we haven’t seen them since,” said Shavkatilla Mamatov, 45, outside the charred remains of his home on Alisher Navoi Street, where every residence was gutted by arson attacks.

Ryskulova, the Kyrgyz aid coordinator, told The Associated Press that arrests were indeed being made in Uzbek neighborhoods as police investigated the causes of this month’s violence, but added that she had no information about beatings or deaths.

The official death toll from the violence that tore apart Osh and the nearby city of Jalal-Abad currently stands at 294, although Kyrgyzstan’s interim President Roza Otunbayeva has said as many as 2,000 people died in the riots.

Otunbayeva’s government came to power in April after former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in mass protests in the capital, Bishkek. It got a boost from Sunday’s referendum on a new constitution that legitimized its grip on power and paved the way for holding parliamentary elections in October.

The government had accused Bakiyev’s supporters of instigating the violence to delay the referendum, a charge that Bakiyev, in self-imposed exile in Belarus, has denied.

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