UNHCR Briefing Notes: Ukraine, Bosnia
1. Ukraine killing
UNHCR is shocked and saddened by the murder last weekend in Ukraine of a Rwandan refugee doctor and respected community leader. Dr. Patrice Nshimumuremi was beaten to death outside his home in Vinnytsya, south-east of Kiev, on returning home from a celebration of the founding of a local refugee NGO, of which he was chairman. Dr. Nshimumuremi's murder is all the more shocking in light of his stature in the Vinnytsya community. A resident in Ukraine since 1987, graduate of the Vinnytsya Medical University, husband of a Ukrainian woman, father to an 18-month-old baby, and contributor to a local human rights organisation, Dr. Nshimumuremi would have been considered a model refugee. Unable to return to his native Rwanda in the wake of the genocide there, Dr. Nshimumuremi had sought safety in Ukraine.
The attack raises concerns about xenophobia towards refugees in the Ukraine and elsewhere, and highlights the difficulties and even dangers that refugees can face integrating into their new societies around the world. It is especially disappointing in light of recent positive developments in the Ukraine, including a new refugee law adopted in June which is in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention, and a new citizenship law, adopted in February this year, which eases the acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship for refugees. Ukraine hosts some 3,900 refugees.
2. Bosnia killing
UNHCR is outraged by the murder of 16-year-old Bosniak returnee Meliha Duric, who was shot by an unknown assailant early Thursday at the village of Damdzici, near Vlasenica in Republika Srpska - one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's two constituent entities. The teenage girl was murdered just four months after the Duric family returned to Damdzici. She was killed while inside her own house by a single shot fired from the outside. This was the second attack on a Bosniak returnee in the area in just three months. On May 14th, another Bosniak returnee was wounded by a gunshot fired under similar circumstances in the same village. No arrests were made after that attack. UNHCR is urging the Republika Srpska authorities to do their utmost to track down the murderer and bring them to justice. UNHCR believes that the lack of a robust effort to find and to punish the perpetrator of the first attack might have encouraged the second one. The attack illustrates the dangers Bosnians still face in returning to their homes, nearly six years after the war ended.
Nearly 230,000 people have gone back to live among their former enemies since the Dayton peace agreement put an end to fighting in Bosnia in the fall of 1995. Most of them have returned to the Federation, but an estimated 60,000 non-Serbs have also gone back to Republika Srpska.
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