UNHCR concerned over racist attacks in Moscow
The refugee agency condemns "vicious" attacks that killed a Russian citizen of Afghan origin and left his Congolese companion seriously injured.
MOSCOW, April 18 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency expressed its concern today over what it called "the mounting risks to foreigners of skinhead attacks on the streets of Moscow," following an April 15 attack on two interpreters - a Congolese and a Russian of Afghan origin - working for the Moscow Regional Migration Service. The Russian citizen later died in hospital from injuries sustained in the attack.
The April 15 attack was reportedly perpetrated by "skinheads" wielding metal bars. The Russian citizen of Afghan origin, Abdul Hakim Hakrizi, died the following day from his injuries. The Congolese man, who was with Hakim at the time of the assault, sustained serious injuries and was hospitalised. Both men worked for the Moscow Regional Migration Service as interpreters for asylum seekers from Afghanistan and various African nations. The Congolese victim is himself seeking asylum in Russia from his war-torn homeland and is registered with UNHCR.
The incident is the latest fatality in a long string of violent racist attacks in Moscow. Another African asylum seeker - Massa Mayoni from Angola - was murdered in August 2001 in a gang attack by Russian teenagers outside UNHCR's refugee reception centre in Moscow.
Since then, UNHCR has received reports from asylum seekers registered with the agency of up to 10 racist attacks a month, according to a statement from the UNHCR Moscow office. Several of the victims have required hospitalisation.
There have also been media reports in recent weeks of attacks and harassment of other foreigners in Moscow, including members of the diplomatic community.
The UNHCR Moscow office called the attacks "vicious" and said they are "instilling greater fear than ever among asylum seekers," who already face daunting challenges in everyday life in Russia.
UNHCR has requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "intervene as a matter of urgency" to enhance security for asylum seekers and staff, particularly in areas where many asylum seekers are residing.