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Rights expert: 'Border fences ineffective'

The Local · 28 Aug 2015, 10:15

Published: 28 Aug 2015 10:15 GMT+02:00

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Human rights expert at the University of Graz Wolfgang Benedek has said efforts to better protect border does not help the situation and instead calls for openness towards asylum seekers.

“The question about better protection at the borders does not help. The Hungarians will see that the fence that they plan to build there has mainly just a symbolic meaning.”

Although praising the Austrian government's decision to appoint a refugee coordinator, Benedek said that the idea introducing special processes to quickly establish where someone has come from, as suggested by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz this week, would be ineffective as it would be clear the people could not be returned.

He added that people should be aware that “70 percent, if not more, of refugees coming to us at the moment actually come from war zones – whether that is Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan.”

Amongst the general public, Benedek believes there is a great deal uncertainty and more policy work in this area is required.

“It is also important that people come into direct contact with refugees,” he said. “Because wherever there is direct contact, there is also an understanding of the situation of these people. If one understands the fate of these families then the question of whether they can stay here or be sent back is no longer relevant. Then one would intuitively say 'we will help as much as possible'.”

Tragedy for migrants crossing into Austria

His comments follow the news that the bodies of more than 70 migrants were found dead at the side of a motorway in Austria on Thursday morning.

The number was confirmed to AFP by interior ministry spokesman Alexander Marakovits. The lorry was found on Thursday morning on a motorway near the borders with Slovakia and Hungary.

Politicians around Europe have reacted to the news with shock and horror, with Austria's Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner describing yesterday as "a dark day".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "This is a warning to us to tackle this migrants issue quickly and in a European spirit, which means in a spirit of solidarity, and to find solutions."


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