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IMMIGRATION

Thousands offer time and money to help refugees

The city of Vienna says it has been flooded with offers from members of the public to help donate time and money in support of refugees.

Thousands offer time and money to help refugees
Caritas Wien

As large numbers of volunteers welcomed refugees and migrants arriving at Westbahnhof on trains from Hungary this week with bottles of water and food, the city's refugee coordinator says there have been over 1000 offers to help.

Around 3,650 refugees and migrants arrived in Vienna on Monday, the largest number to ever arrive in Austria in one day, after authorities in Budapest allowed people who had been camping outside the station for days to board the train.

The NGO Caritas was overseeing the distribution of donations on Tuesday, the numbers of which had reportedly been overwhelming, and said by the afternoon no more were needed.

“Something is happening in the city,” says refugee coordinator Peter Hacker, who runs the platform “fluechtlinge.wien” where people are lodging their offers of time and money.

“There were hundreds of letters arriving from members of the public who wanted to support and encourage refugee policy in the city.”

The platform, which was only launched online in August, has since received 1,200 offers from volunteers wanting to dedicate some time to helping the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

“Everything helps, even if it is only two hours in the week,” Hacker said, adding that their offers of help were directed on to different organisations working in this area.

The platform brings together different areas of refugee aid, from volunteering time to accommodation places. There have been around 100 offers of space in apartments for people to sleep, which experts are examining at the moment.

“This ranges from a single place in a shared apartment to a complete place,” Hacker said, who could not confirm yet how many would turn into actual accommodation places for refugees.

20,000 protest against treatment of refugees

He was speaking following a larger-than-expected demonstration of 20,000 people that took place in Vienna on Monday in support of refugees.

Many protesters were welcoming refugees and calling for a more humanitarian approach to migrant policy.

The protest was organised after the grim discovery of the bodies of 71 refugees, including four children, were found in an abandoned truck in Austria last week, having suffocated while being smuggled into Europe.

Interested in volunteering your time or money? The Local Austria featured an article in August outlining four ways people can help refugees in Austria.

ECONOMY

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.

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