Concern over the murder of an asylum seeker in Ukraine

Briefing Notes, 1 February 2008

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 1 February 2008, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

We are shocked by the murder last weekend in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv (Kiev) of an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 19-year old asylum seeker arrived in June 2007 in search of international protection. He approached our partner NGO in Kyiv for legal assistance and was registered officially as an asylum seeker by the city of Kyiv migration service.

His body was found on the night of 27 January, with numerous knife wounds. The motive for the murder is not yet known, according to the police. The United Nations Office in Ukraine, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration have expressed to the Ukrainian authorities their grave concern over this murder and requested that a thorough investigation be conducted, including the possibility that it was a racially-motivated attack, and keep them informed of the outcome of the investigation.

Last June, we expressed concern about the rise in attacks on asylum seekers and refugees in Ukraine. In 2007 some 17 persons of concern reported to UNHCR such incidents in Kyiv alone , including unprovoked attacks, beatings and verbal abuse.

In January, organizations monitoring the situation noticed an increase in the number of incidents of violence against people of different ethnicity both in Kyiv and in other parts of the country.

UNHCR appreciates the important steps taken by the Ukrainian Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, including the appointment of a special ambassador to address this problem.