'No respect' for human rights at Traiskirchen camp
Amnesty International has complained of inhumane conditions at Austria’s reception centre for asylum seekers in Traiskirchen, in a new report released on Friday.
Amnesty Austria General Secretary Heinz Patzelt said inspectors who visited the centre last week were particularly concerned about 1,700 under age refugees who appeared to have no-one to care for them.
He also criticised the fact that parents were not always housed in the same quarters as their children and that women had to shower in the same facilities as the men, with no curtains or privacy.
Patzelt said that he was "extremely angry" and appealed to political leaders to accept responsibility for asylum seekers, saying Austria had the resources to be able to care for refugees adequately but lacked the political
"The failure in the care of refugees could have easily been avoided, the blame lies primarily with administrative errors," he said at a press conference.
"Traiskirchen is a symptom of a far-reaching structural failure within Austria to dealing with asylum seekers," the Amnesty report said. It went on to criticise the severe overcrowding at the camp, inadequate medical and social care, and administrative hurdles which it said are easily avoidable.
The Amnesty team visited the camp for several hours and spoke to 30 asylum seekers. Last week 4,500 people were housed there, with hundreds sleeping in tents and some even forced to sleep in the open air outside the grounds of the centre - including pregnant women and women with newborn children. Traiskirchen was built to house 1,800 people.
Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) has called for solidarity among the various European countries dealing with an influx of refugees from war torn countries, and acknowledged that it was "clear to everyone" that the situation at Traiskirchen "is not sustainable".
She has accused individual Austrian states of failing to provide extra housing for refugees.
The number of asylum requests in Austria rose above 28,300 between January and June alone - as many as the whole of 2014 - and officials expect the total to reach 80,000 this year.
Most arrive from neighbouring Hungary, which, like Austria, is a member of the EU and the passport-free Schengen zone.
Earlier this week the European Commission confirmed it was providing around €2.4 billion to EU members in migration aid, including €26.5 million for Austria.