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Amnesty accuses Austria of violating refugees’ rights

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A father and his children wait outside of Austria's main refugee camp in Traiskirchen on July 31, 2015. (AFP)

Amnesty International has slammed Austria over its treatment of asylum seekers, calling it “inhumane”.

The international rights group said in a report on Friday that conditions at Traiskirchen site, Austria’s main refugee camp, are a “disgraceful” violation of human rights and show serious breaches of standards at the reception center.

“Overcrowding, insufficient medical and social care, avoidable administrative hurdles, delays in transfers to other centers and a particularly precarious situation facing children and adolescents who have come to Austria as unaccompanied children,” added the report.

Built to house 1,800 people, Austria's main intake center at Traiskirchen, a town 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the capital Vienna is currently home to 4,000 men, women and children, mostly escaping violence in hot spots such as Syria and Iraq.

According to Amnesty’s findings, around 1,500 of the refugees do not have bed and many children sleep in tents outside the camp in parks or at the local train station.

“Traiskirchen is the symptom of a far reaching failure of the federal state of Austria when dealing with asylum seekers,” stated Heinz Patzelt, the secretary-general of Amnesty International Austria.

“Austria is neither in a state of financial difficulty, nor does it suffer from a scarcity of resources: the failure to supply adequate support to asylum seekers is avoidable and seems to be mainly the result of administrative issues,” he further added.

Refugees sit next to their tents on the grounds of Austria's main refugee processing centre in Traiskirchen on July 31, 2015. (AFP)

The rights watchdog also called for “immediate assistance” to unaccompanied children refugees at the center, as well as the appointment of a legal guardian who can protect their interests.

“Austria is currently not in line with basic human rights standards when it comes to the housing and processing of asylum seekers,” said Patzelt.

Austria, with a population of 8.5 million people, received more than 28,000 asylum requests in 2014. It expects 75,000 refugees to arrive by the end of the current year. Between January and June alone, Austria counted 28,300 new requests.

Meanwhile, the European Union said that the world was facing its worst refugee crisis since World War II.

“What we must do and the (European) Commission has done it, is to organize our system in order to face this problem in a decent, civilized and European way,” EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a press conference on Friday.


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