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UN refugee agency condemns murder of Nigerian man in Ukraine

UN refugee agency condemns murder of Nigerian man in Ukraine

A refugee working in a market in Kyiv
The United Nations refugee agency has condemned the murder of a Nigerian man in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, in the latest of a series of attacks against foreigners in the country.

The victim was found on the evening of 29 May in the Solomenskiy district of the city suffering numerous knife wounds. Police said the motive for the fatal attack was unknown. The man had approached the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kyiv two years ago, seeking legal assistance.

UNHCR, along with some 30 other groups belonging to the Diversity Initiative human rights coalition in the country, have urged Ukrainian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the killing, including the possibility it was racially motivated. The group asked to be kept informed of the outcome of the investigation.

Over the past two years, human rights groups have reported increasing violent attacks on foreigners and non-Ukrainians in Kyiv and elsewhere in the country.

UNHCR says it has repeatedly expressed concern over unprovoked attacks, beatings and verbal abuse aimed at asylum-seekers, refugees, migrants, foreigners and minorities in Ukraine.

According to anecdotal evidence collected by the Diversity Initiative from victims, media sources and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), there have been at least 40 such attacks so far in 2008, including four murders.

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

At the beginning of this year, 2,277 refugees were living in Ukraine. From 2002 to 2007, 285 people were granted refugee status. Last year 33 refugees were recognized, compared to 65 in 2006 and 49 in 2005.