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Hundreds plan to protest against asylum policy

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Hundreds plan to protest against asylum policy
One of the tent cities. Photo: Vol.at
13:19 CEST+02:00
Hundreds of people are planning to protest against Austria's asylum policy in Vienna later today.

The hopelessly overcrowded refugee processing centre in Traiskirchen, Lower Austria, has long been a byword for what critics say is a failed asylum policy.

The centre has been housing up to 2,000 refugees, many of them unaccompanied minors, even though the upper limit is meant to be 480 people. Last week the Interior Ministry set up tents in the grounds of a nearby former security academy for 480 refugees, to try and ease the strain.

The refugees say that they lack any privacy at Traiskirchen and have to wait months for their asylum applications to be processed. The tent city has been sweltering in temperatures of up to 32C this week.

Traiskirchen mayor Andreas Babler (SPÖ) has organised the protest, under the title “It’s enough, Mrs Minister”. He believes Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) is responsible for the situation, and he has organised six buses for between 300 and 500 frustrated Traiskirchen residents to travel to Vienna on Tuesday afternoon.

They will be gathering at 6:45 pm in Löwelstrasse and from there will make their way to the Interior Ministry in Herrengasse. A police spokesman told the Österreich newspaper that “enough officers will be deployed” to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Around 1,000 refugees are currently living in tent camps in Austria, because only Vienna, Lower Austria and Styria have met their asylum quotas. Mikl-Leitner has given the rest of the country an ultimatum, and has said that if the quotas are not met by June 18 she will have to house refugees in disused army barracks. From July, seven new processing centres should be up and running.

Babler told Österriech that it was “inconceivable that people should have to sleep in tents, when there are hundreds of empty buildings which could be used”.

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