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EU quotas 'only way to solve refugee crisis'

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EU quotas 'only way to solve refugee crisis'
Refugees arriving at Westbahnhof station. Photo: Caritas
10:37 CEST+02:00
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has said that European Union asylum quotas are the only way to solve the ongoing refugee crisis, adding that Austria will consider withholding funds from the EU if other member states continue to oppose quotas.

Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania have rejected the idea of quotas - saying they would be futile if the EU's outer borders cannot be defended.

As refugees continue to arrive in Vienna after crossing the Hungarian border, city authorities have said that a total of 27,000 tonnes of donations, including food, clothes and children's toys, were taken to Westbahnhof train station over the weekend.

540 volunteers coordinated by the Catholic aid charity Caritas helped sort and distribute them. 16,000 refugees poured into the station, and a further 4,000 arrived at Vienna's other major train station Hauptbahnhof where a team of self-organised volunteers have set up beds for refugees to rest and are distributing food, clothes and first aid.

"What the volunteers and interpreters have done is stunning," said Peter Hacker, Vienna's Refugee Coordinator. 1,500 refugees stayed overnight in Vienna on Saturday after they were unable to continue onto Germany, and were provided with beds by the Austrian Railways and the City of Vienna. The Stadthalle events centre, which hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in May, has also offered to set up beds if needed but so far that hasn't been necessary.

According to the Interior Ministry, around 600 people claimed asylum in Austria over the weekend, more than had been expected. More than 18,000 people chose to travel onto Germany which has said it will accept asylum applications from Syrian refugees regardless of which EU country they first arrived in. Under the so-called Dublin rules refugees must claim asylum in the first EU country they arrive in.

Meanwhile, on Monday the European Commission announced that it would be providing Austria with €5 million, as an emergency fund to support looking after the influx of refugees.

Immigration and Interior Commissioner Dmitris Avramopolous said that the aid to Vienna is an emergency measure intended to bolster its capacity in view of the increasing flow of undocumented persons.

Convoy

A convoy of around 150 cars which set off for the Hungarian border on Sunday to pick up refugees and bring them back to Vienna went smoothly, and police said no one was arrested or charged. There had been fears the drivers of the cars could be prosecuted for people-smuggling under Hungarian or Austrian law.

On Tuesday, hundreds of migrants broke through police lines on Hungary's border with Serbia and started walking towards the capital, Budapest.

A crowd funding site has been set up to help refugees fleeing Syria and other countries get to their desired destination.

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