Syrian Kurd Sets Himself on Fire Outside UN Refugee Agency in Geneva

A man set himself on fire outside the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday morning. The Syrian Kurd from Germany was transported by helicopter to a local hospital. 

The man reportedly covered himself in petrol and set light to himself outside the UNHCR headquarters building. 

“He is a Syrian Kurd, born in 1988 and a resident in Germany,” Geneva police spokesperson Silvain Guillaume-Gentil told 20 Minutes. 

The emergency services were quickly on the spot and reportedly managed to save his life. The online site said he was then quickly transported by helicopter from the Place des Nations square in front of the UN headquarters to Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), which specialises in the treatment of burns. 

The incident reportedly took place at around 7:40 am while many people were going to work at the building. 

“I was woken up by screams from the street,” a local resident told 20 Minutes. “Repeated cries of distress, I saw that something was happening outside UNHCR. There were many police cars, an ambulance and firemen…later I saw a man leave on a stretcher.” 

UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told Reuters: “We are saddened and shocked (about) an incident of self-immolation that happened in front of our Geneva headquarters this morning.”

The man had set light to himself and then tried to enter the UNHCR building but security officers and medical services intervened, and the fire was extinguished, Mahecic said. The UNHCR headquarters is situated opposite a collective shelter for asylum-seekers, including Syrian Kurds.

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