Counterpart Ponders Future in Uzbekistan

    ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- This week an international
 development agency with major programs in Central Asia begins closing its
 offices in Uzbekistan after a court in Tashkent ruled in favour of Justice
 Ministry charges of unauthorized activities.
     "We have no option but to abide by the ruling of the court and begin
 dissolving relevant programs in Uzbekistan," Lelei LeLaulu, the president
 of Counterpart International, told reporters on his way to Central Asia to
 see what could be salvaged of the international humanitarian and
 development organization's work.
     He added, "It has been a privilege to work with the Uzbek people for a
 decade, and we look forward to the next stage of cooperation with
 Uzbekistan."
     Since its operations there began in 1995, Counterpart has delivered
 over US$100 million worth of assistance to Uzbekistan in support of the
 government's development agenda, and its progress on the Millennium
 Development Goals.
     Working with the Uzbek government and its agencies, Counterpart has
 managed a portfolio of development programs totaling $18.1 million to
 ensure the nation's citizens continuing access to improved health care,
 safe drinking water, hospitals, clinics, roads and other community
 services, with funding provided by USAID, the World Bank, the United
 Nations, private sector donors and DFID, the British aid agency.
     During the past decade Counterpart has also delivered more than $90
 million in humanitarian assistance, providing various Uzbek government
 ministries with medical equipment, school supplies, food and rehabilitation
 services for their citizens.
     LeLaulu paid tribute to the Uzbek Cabinet of Ministers' Working Group
 on Humanitarian Aid for skillfully guiding assistance to the neediest
 citizens, "with compassion and efficiency."
     Two thirds of the $90 million in aid that Counterpart administered went
 to beneficiaries through Uzbek partner organizations such as the Ministry
 of Labor and Social Protection, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of
 Emergency Management, the Children's Fund of Uzbekistan and the Red
 Crescent Society of Uzbekistan.
     "It has been our privilege to have worked on programs which touched
 millions of Uzbek citizens, and Counterpart looks forward to continuing a
 dialogue with the Uzbekistan Government to see how we might continue to
 help them serve their people," added LeLaulu.
     LeLaulu gave the example of how Counterpart, working alongside the
 Ministry of Health, has significantly increased the health of children in
 18 mahallas in the remote and arid western region of Uzbekistan. "Our child
 survival programs have enabled thousands of children and their mothers in
 Karakalpakstan to lead healthier lives and we hope to find a way to
 continue to provide such services."
     In other parts of Uzbekistan, Counterpart's Healthy Communities
 programs mobilize communities around vital health issues, LeLaulu added,
 benefiting about 90,000 residents in over 40 communities through the
 provision of improved drinking water and sports facilities as well as
 improving hygiene, sanitation and nutrition education.
     Counterpart has also bolstered the work of civil society organizations
 through technical assistance, training, and grants to support projects
 which enable ordinary citizens and local government to work more
 effectively together to promote the country's social and economic
 development, and to constructively engage with government for mutual
 benefit.
     On the Tashkent court's ruling on the charges brought by the Ministry
 of Justice, LeLaulu said, "We adequately responded to each technicality
 raised by the officials with proof that we had, in fact, followed both
 Uzbek law and our own charter, but the court has made its ruling so we must
 obey the judgment, while looking forward to see how we can continue our
 partnership with the people and Government of Uzbekistan."
     Counterpart International has development programs in the other four
 Central Asian nations as well as in neighboring Afghanistan, the Caucasus
 and Caspian regions.
     Since its' founding in 1965, Counterpart International has become
 particularly renowned for its work in constructive partnerships with
 governments, businesses, communities and non-government organizations in
 developing infrastructure, small enterprises, and for providing effective
 service delivery, especially to the most vulnerable.
     For further information, visit http://www.counterpart.org.
 
     Contact:  Bevan Springer
               + 1 202-296-9676
               bspringer@counterpart.org
 
 

SOURCE Counterpart International

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