Disputed political relations caused a further delay
After a difficult journey of more than 10,000 kilometers, our aid transport has arrived in Kyrgyzstan. As early as June 2020, we had collected 22 pallets of relief supplies for Kyrgyzstan. A fundraiser collected large quantities of clothing, toys, teaching materials, sports equipment and medicines. After the departure from the Netherlands, the goods were confiscated in Belarus.
The problems started when they left the EU. In Belarus, the anti-Lukashenko protests had just begun as the relief supplies entered the country. The entire cargo was meticulously sifted through and a number of cans of tuna were found among the humanitarian supplies. As a result, the entire load was rejected and a large fine had to be paid to release the goods. With the support of the Dutch embassy in Minsk, we managed to get the goods back to the Netherlands.
Everything has been repacked
Back in Hoogeveen, everything had to be repackaged. The ‘illegal’ cans of tuna were removed and everything was repacked In the intervening weeks we received new donations and we could even add more pallets. We have contacted Kyrgyzstan’s customs to ease the whole process. They suggested sending a sealed truck. With a so-called TIR carnet, there would be no more border controls in intermediate countries. Again, it worked out differently
In November, the Kyrgyz truck came to load the equipment. A TIR carnet was completed and the driver said he would arrive in Kyrgyzstan within a month. The communication then went through the Kyrgyz customs. They occasionally gave an update on where the driver was. In December, the customs authorities in Kyrgyzstan indicated that the driver had crossed the border into Russia without any problems. We were hoping that it would now go quickly.
The relationship between Russia and Kazakhstan has become quite troubled during the corona crisis. Kazakhstan kept many borders with Russia closed. Mainly for fear of further spread of the coronavirus. Huge traffic jams and riots caused further delays. Russia is incredibly popular with migrant workers from Central Asia. Many Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks and Kyrgyz were unable to return to their families for New Years. The truckload of humanitarian supplies even stood still for several weeks, with no hope of progress. Literally
After the Orthodox Christmas, things finally got going. The humanitarian goods were allowed to cross the border. Only 2,500 kilometers of Kazakh steppe to be crossed. In a few days this was accomplished and the goods were at the border of Kyrgyzstan.
In January this year, the border crossings between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were closed. The truck, again, was waiting for closed gates. Again political to social unrest. It doesn’t seem to end
To make matters worse, many government employees in Kyrgyzstan were fired. For example the contact person who arranged everything. Contact was no longer possible and many services were not operational. The borders were still closed When the borders were opened, we were surprised with the news that all the goods had been present in the customs terminal for some time already In a hurry, the Kyrgyz partners went to the terminal. What they faced was no fun.
All pallets had been opened and all items were scattered throughout the terminal. Everything was covered in dust and sand. Fortunately, the load seemed complete, but a lot of washing, repair and cleaning had to be done. Everything was transported to our office in Karakol as quickly as possible. The local organization is currently cleaning and refurbishing the goods. Despite the countless setbacks, everything seems to work out. The first goods were distributed to the local population last week.
Due to the corona crisis, there is no income and transport costs have risen enormously due to the setbacks. That is why we have decided to sell traditional yurts (tents). The profit is entirely spent on social projects in Kyrgyzstan. In addition, the Crowd Funding still exists for the transport costs. More information can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/corona-hulptransport-kirgizie