Rising killings of Africans in Ukraine raises concerns

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The UN refugee agency on Tuesday joined over 30 other organisations in condemning the recent murder of a Nigerian national in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, the latest in a series of attacks against foreigners in the country.

“The victim, who was known to UNHCR after approaching the agency’s office in Kiev two years ago seeking legal assistance, was found on the evening of May 29 in the Solomenskiy district of the city suffering from numerous knife wounds,” UNHCR spokesperson, Jennifer Pagonis, told journalists in Geneva, Switzerland.

A statement made Wednesday quoted the police as saying the motive for the fatal attack was unknown.

UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and some 30 other groups belonging to the Diversity Initiative human rights coalition have urged Ukrainian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the killing.

They also want the police to establish if the killing was racially motivated.
“Over the past two years, human rights groups have reported an increasing number of violent attacks on foreigners and non-Ukrainians in Kiev and elsewhere in the country”, said the agency.

UNHCR and IOM have repeatedly expressed concern over unprovoked attacks, beatings and verbal abuse aimed at asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, foreigners and minorities in Ukraine.

Pagonis noted that according to anecdotal evidence collected by the Diversity Initiative from victims, media sources and non-governmental organisations, there had been at least 40 such attacks so far this year, including four murders.

In January, a 19-year-old asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was found stabbed to death, and in March, a 39-year-old Sierra Leonean asylum seeker was also stabbed to death.

This is a matter of great concern to Africa as it comes hardly two weeks after rampaging South Africans unleashed terror on African migrants, whom they accused of taking up jobs at the expense of the locals.

Ukraine started implementing its first refugee law in 1996. Since then, some 5,459 asylum seekers have been granted refugee status. At the beginning of this year, 2,277 refugees were living in Ukraine.

Just over half, 51 percent, of recognised refugees originate from Afghanistan, 29 percent from the former Soviet Union republics and 13 percent from Africa.

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