Amnesty International: Migrant rights in Austria violated
by Daily Sabah with AP
ISTANBULAug 15, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with AP
Aug 15, 2015 12:00 am
Amnesty International is reporting serious human rights violations at Austria's main immigrant collection center, including overcrowding, forcing more than 1,000 people to camp out in the open. The Amnesty report says those without a roof over their head at the Traiskirchen center, south of Vienna, include women with families and unaccompanied children.
Presenting the findings on Friday, Amnesty Austria head Heinz Patzelt said he is "unspeakably angry." He said the conditions represent a failure to care for refugees fleeing wars and violate U.N conventions on the rights of children and women. The Interior Ministry acknowledged a "precarious situation." It noted that a pending law would allow migrants to be housed on or in property owned by the federal government, over the objections of Austria's provinces that have rejected migrant quotas.
In June, the Interior Ministry said some 500 people seeking protection in Austria were forced to sleep on the floor for up to several weeks as they were not provided beds at the country's biggest refugee camp. The 500 exceeded the maximum capacity of 2,300 at the Traiskirchen camp south of Vienna, ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said. The number of people in the camp had risen because several Austrian provinces did not fulfill their obligations in taking in migrants, he added. "The asylum seekers are given blankets but no mattresses. They have to sleep on the floors of waiting rooms and garages in Traiskirchen," he said, confirming media reports. Austria is one of the richest EU countries. Along with Sweden, it has been taking in the most asylum seekers in the bloc, relative to the size of its population.
More than 6,200 asylum seekers reached Austria in May, two and a half times more than in the same period last year. Most of the arrivals are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The EU has long been criticized for failing to cope with the migrants fleeing violence. Last month, EU ministers could not agree on how to distribute all 40,000 mostly Syrian and Eritrean migrants from overstretched Italy and Greece. They agreed to start relocating a little over 32,000 migrants among the EU's 28 members in October, falling around 8,000 short of the target agreed to by EU leaders at a summit in June. The European Commission originally proposed relocating 40,000 migrants after an unprecedented amount of migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean in April left nearly 800 people dead. EU leaders agreed on the figure in June but have been bitterly divided over how to reach it, first rejecting compulsory quotas and then arguing over how to redistribute them.
The increasingly violent and chaotic situation in the Middle East has led many people to flee the conflict in an attempt to seek security and shelter in more prosperous and peaceful countries in Europe. More than 1,900 migrants have died this year making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe out of around 150,000 people who have made the crossing, the International Organization for Migration said in July. EU sources said the countries that were most reluctant to admit migrants were Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Baltic countries and Spain. Hungary refused to admit both migrants seeking asylum and refugees who had already been approved for asylum, according to EU figures. Austria refused to accept asylum seekers but agreed to take in 1,900 refugees.