Refugee Crisis

Syrians seeking asylum in Austria sent back to Slovenia

Syrians seeking asylum in Austria sent back to Slovenia
Reception centre at Spielfeld border crossing. GYORGY VARGA/EPA
A Syrian couple and their nephew who claimed asylum in Austria after crossing the border from Slovenia were left stranded and forced to sleep outside after authorities took them back to Slovenia and left them there.

Now the family, who are still stuck in Slovenia, have hired a lawyer to file a complaint with Austrian authorities and have their case heard.

The 57-year-old man, his 50-year-old wife, and their 24-year-old nephew had arrived at the border town of Spielfeld in southern Austria on February 22nd, where they immediately claimed asylum. The couple’s son already lives in Austria and the family were hoping to be re-united with him.

At the border, authorities checked the men’s identification but not the woman’s and then stamped all of their passports confirming entry to Austria.

After being brought to a room where they had to wait for hours, the three refugees were suddenly taken back across the border to Slovenia by the police, without any explanation, according to their lawyer Ronald Frühwirth.

“Their passports had the entry stamp and they have fled from the war, there are no economic reasons,” Frühwirth explains.

Brought back to a registration centre in the Slovenian town of Postojna, the three then felt forced to seek asylum in Slovenia after being threatened with deportation to Croatia.

Their lawyer describes the circumstances then becoming even more “dramatic” after they were taken to unsuitable accommodation in the capital Ljubljana.

“My clients had to sleep outside, because it was overflowing,” says Frühwirth, who has now filed a complaint with the administrative court and expects to know how the case will proceed in a couple of weeks.