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REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

Refugee intake halted at ‘inhumane’ camp

Austria's main refugee processing centre will temporarily halt its intake of asylum seekers at the overcrowded camp, officials said on Friday, after the UN described conditions there as "dangerous and inhumane".

Refugee intake halted at 'inhumane' camp
Asylum seekers sleeping in the grounds of Traiskirchen. Photo: ORF

The centre in Traiskirchen, 20 kilometres south of Vienna, would no longer accept new migrants as of next Wednesday, Lower Austrian governor Erwin Pröll said.

The camp, which is meant to house 1,800 people, currently holds more than twice as many — 4,500 refugees. Nearly half of them do not have a bed.

“Authorities are taking a clear step with this measure to avoid a further influx into the Traiskirchen camp,” Pröll told the press.

He said he had taken the decision after many of the registered migrants had failed to present themselves for a health check-up to assess potential risks of epidemic.

As a result, an “accurate appraisal” of the camp population's general health had not been possible, which represented a risk from a medical point of view.

During a recent visit to the camp, the representative of the UN's refugee agency, Christopher Pinter, described the situation in Traiskirchen as “inadmissible, dangerous and inhumane”.

Human rights group Amnesty International is due to inspect the camp in the coming days.

Austria, a country of 8.5 million people, received more than 28,000 asylum requests in 2014, three times the European average relative to population size.

It expects at least 75,000 asylum seekers to arrive by the end of this year, with a majority coming via Serbia and Hungary.

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Tell us: What was your experience like dealing with Vienna’s MA35?

The office for immigration and citizenship in Vienna is for many immigrants their first encounter with Austrian bureaucracy. We want to hear from you about your own experience dealing with officials and the process.

Tell us: What was your experience like dealing with Vienna's MA35?

Vienna’s MA35 is a well-known office for immigrants in Austria, particularly those who live in the capital. It has received plenty of criticism for long delays, mistakes and even mistreatment of those seeking services from renewing a visa to applying for Austrian citizenship.

Yet, it is an integral part of life for immigrants and their family members, as the office is responsible for residence permits (from visas to the Anmeldebescheiningung for EU citizens), naturalisation applications and more. In short: there is no escaping it.

So, we want to hear from you: What has been your experience and importantly do you have any advice for others?

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