Efforts to improve ‘inhumane’ camp

Austria’s main refugee processing centre has stopped taking in any new asylum seekers from Wednesday as conditions at the severely overcrowded camp currently pose a health risk and the government is worried about an epidemic breaking out.

Efforts to improve 'inhumane' camp
Asylum seekers sleeping in the grounds of Traiskirchen. Photo: ORF

A health check and initial administrative steps for new asylum seekers will still be carried out at the Traiskirchen centre in Lower Austria, but they will then be sent on to accommodation in Austria’s other provinces.

Human rights group Amnesty International is due to inspect the camp on Thursday, and hurried efforts have been made to clear rubbish and improve hygiene facilities.

Last week the UN described conditions at the camp as “dangerous and inhumane”. The camp is designed to hold a maximum of 1,800 people but currently houses more than twice as many, around 4,000 refugees.

Nearly half of them do not have a bed and are sleeping in corridors, and under tarpaulins and tents outdoors. Many of the refugees sleeping outside are women and young children.

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 – the so-called ‘Balkan route’.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said that currently around 1,600 beds are needed per week for new asylum seekers, and that the situation at Traiskirchen has become “unsustainable”.

She added that the provinces have made “a great effort in recent weeks to create new quarters for refugees fleeing from war, but that more refugees are arriving than we can accommodate in the short term”.

She said the government will be supporting the provinces as best as it can by opening up police quarters and cells and setting up new tent camps and containers. The Red Cross has said it can provide an additional 500 beds.

The entire European Union is struggling to cope with a huge influx of refugees, many risking their lives to flee violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Almost 185,000 applied for asylum in the first quarter alone – a rise of 86 percent according to EU statistics agency Eurostat.


Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

International business owners in Vienna bring in billions of euros in revenue and taxes each year, according to a recent survey by the Chamber of Commerce.

Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna's economy

New figures show that Vienna’s international entrepreneurs do more than simply boost diversity in Austria’s capital city – they also significantly contribute to the local economy.

The Wirtschaftskammer (Chamber of Commerce) has revealed that business owners in Vienna with a migration background generate € 8.3 billion in revenue and create around 45,500 jobs.

Plus, these companies pay around € 3.7 billion every year in taxes and duties, reports ORF.

READ MORE: Austrian presidential elections: Why 1.4 million people can’t vote

Walter Ruck, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, said: “Companies with a migrant background not only enrich the diversity of the corporate landscape in Vienna, they are also an economic factor.”

Ruck added that more than 200 international companies move to the capital each year and said the diversity is helping Vienna to financially recover from the pandemic. 

The Chamber of Commerce considers a business owner to have a migration background if they were not born in Austria and/or they have a non-Austrian nationality.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on working overtime in Austria?

According to ORF, there are 34,000 entrepreneurs in Vienna with a migration background and 7,400 of those business owners have Austrian citizenship.

Additionally, 4,500 business owners have Slovakian nationality, 3,800 are from Romania and 2,600 have German citizenship.

The most popular business sector for people in Vienna with a migration background is retail, followed by real estate and technical services.