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Austrian MPs visit Syrian refugees

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Yazidi families occupy tents in a new refugee camp near the Turkish-Iraqi border town of Zakho, Iraq. Photo: APA (epa)
15:21 CET+01:00
Several Austrian parliamentarians paid a flying visit to the overflowing refugee camps at the border between Turkey and Syria this week.

The visit was a cross-party initiative motivated by a desire to learn more about the situation, and to see how Austria can offer more help, according to a spokesperson for the delegation.

Members include the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) Andreas Schneider, Green Party member Berican Aslan and the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) human rights spokeswoman Elisabeth Pfurtscheller.

During the visit the MPs met with local politicians, and viewed the border town of Kobane, where Kurds are battling for survival against an onslaught of fundamentalist Islamist terrorists under the Isis banner.

Currently, the Austrians have said that they plan to finance schools and support projects for women in the refugees camps.  Women and children were especially traumatized by the Isis atrocities, said the MPs.

After visiting the border near Kobane, the group went on to the Diyarbakir refugee camp for Yazidis, then returned to Austria on Thursday.

Currently, there is a strong debate on the refugee crisis arising from the civil war in Syria, and discussion over placing a limit on the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers which Austria can accept.

Diyarbakir is a city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast region where residents have taken to the streets to express their anger over the Turkish government’s inaction in Syria, where Islamic State militants have pushed further into the Kurdish town Kobane.

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