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Refugees in Vienna announce hunger strike

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The new refugee quarters in Erdberg. Photo: APA/ROBERT JAEGER
15:48 CEST+02:00
Three refugees in Vienna's new accommodation in Erdberg have said they are going on hunger strike in order to gain information about their asylum status and to support a fellow refugee who was sent to Tyrol after complaining about conditions in the new centre.

The Iraqi refugee in question, Rimon J., had spoken to the Heute newspaper about what he said were problems with the new accommodation, and was then removed after he allegedly verbally and physically assaulted staff members.

The Interior Ministry and ORS, the firm managing the newly opened refugee centre in Vienna’s 3rd district, said that Rimon J’s behaviour was “unacceptable” and that transferring him to another centre was the right thing to do.

His supporters, two Syrians and a Moroccan, dispute this. "He has a big mouth, and he talks too much, but he is not aggressive," Abdelkader E. told the Austrian Press Agency. 

He added that since Rimon J. had been transferred many of the refugees were afraid to complain about anything.

Rimon J. had been helpful to other refugees and had acted as a translator as he speaks good German, according to Abdelkader E.

He had complained about a lack of interpreters and legal advisers to help the new refugees, and he also told Heute that the refugees were not being given enough food, and had to wait hours for meals.

In a press release ORS said that three meals a day were provided, with waiting times no longer than 15 minutes.

The three men preparing to go on hunger strike have been in Austria for a month but still do not know if they will receive asylum seeker status.

Moaweyah R. said that his family in Syria want to join him but can’t until he knows whether he can stay in Austria or claim asylum in another country.

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