There are fears the bloodletting in Kyrgyzstan could turn into a full-blown humanitarian crisis.
Many ethnic Uzbeks trying to flee the violence remain stranded at the border of neighbouring Uzbekistan. It closed crossings on Monday, insisting it is unable to accommodate the influx.
With reports of mass rape and even the killing of children inside Kyrgyzstan, those who have gathered are desperate to get through. But for now only the severely injured are being let in.
At least 176 people have died and 1,700 others have been injured in the fierce fighting that began last week. The figures look set to rise significantly.
The clashes in the impoverished Central Asian state are the deadliest in 20 years.
The Director of the Kyrgyz Independent Analytical Centre, Kadier Malikov, said: ‘‘We are on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe at a regional level. I think there is a great danger of third countries and outside forces getting involved in the conflict.’‘
Tens of thousands have already made it across the border into Uzbekistan, some finding shelter in summer camps for schoolchildren. Many have tales of horror to tell.
‘‘I fled with my newly-born child and reached the border as shooting was going on everywhere. Everyone was trying to cross the ditch at the border. Many children died. A lot of women, many of them pregnant, died too. So many lives were ruined,’‘ said one woman.
The UN says those trying to escape from Kyrgyzstan could top 100,000. It has begun flying humanitarian aid into the region.