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Airline crew refuse to deport Afghan woman

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Airline crew refuse to deport Afghan woman
Supporters of Laila at Vienna airport. Photo: private
12:42 CEST+02:00
The crew of an Austrian Airlines plane refused to deport an Afghan woman who is due to be returned to Bulgaria in accordance with the Dublin Regulation.

12 of Laila P's supporters followed the police car she was being taken to the airport in and handed out flyers explaining why they believed she shouldn't be made to leave Austria.

"Laila must have found the right words when she was on the plane and convinced the crew not to take her,” one of her supporters told the Kurier newspaper.

Laila (36) works as an interpreter and says that she was mistreated and abused in Bulgaria and has psychological problems as a result.

The pilot decided he was not prepared to transport her and she was returned to a police detention centre but released later on Wednesday. No new date has been scheduled for her deportation.

Her supporters say that she is suicidal after her experience in Bulgaria and should be allowed to remain in Austria. She first arrived in Bulgaria in 2013 - and then came to Austria.  

The Dublin Regulation, used for handling asylum claims in the EU, says that responsibility for examining the claim lies primarily with the member state which played the greatest part in the applicant's entry or residence in the EU.

Austrian Airlines has declined to comment on the case but said in a written statement: "In principle, Austrian Airlines rejects deportations if those affected are resisting. Austrian Airlines reserves the right to refuse to take passengers if they present a danger to themselves or others - or seem likely to be an unreasonable burden on other passengers.”

Laila's case was discussed in the National Assembly on Wednesday, with the NEOS party accusing Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner of acting unlawfully. 

It maintains that the six month deadline by which Laila should have been deported has long expired and therefore she now has the right to remain in Austria.

The interior ministry maintains that although the Dublin Regulation only applies for a six month period, it was suspended whilst an appeal against her deportation was ongoing.

Austrian media have called Laila P. “the face of the deportation debate”. She speaks several languages, is well integrated, and has many friends here.

Meanwhile Austrian President Heinz Fischer said that the recent debate on asylum seekers in Austria showed “a lack of solidarity exists, it is not for us to point fingers at each other, but rather to all work together," he told ORF television. He said the refugee crisis was not a party political issue and that it was important to think of the welfare of refugee families and children.

This week Austria stopped processing asylum requests in an effort to pressure other European Union member states to do more to help absorb waves of refugees pouring into the continent.

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