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REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

Phone footage charts refugee flight from start to finish

Hundreds of people crammed into a lecture hall in Vienna yesterday to watch a film that tells the story of refugees as they flee their countries and make their way to Germany - using only footage shot on their mobile phones.

Phone footage charts refugee flight from start to finish
Youtube screenshot.

The film My Escape, which was directed by Elke Sasse and published on Deutsche Welle, starts with someone filming bombs being dropped on a city in Syria, as well as footage showing what normal life was like there before the war.

It then goes on to chart the different journeys made to Europe and eventually to Germany using only mobile phone footage taken by refugees on the way and interviews with refugees in Germany.

“We noticed that many refugees are using mobile phones to document the journey,” the filmmakers said, adding that they asked people to send them their footage that they then pulled into a film.

When it was shown at a lecture hall in the University of Vienna yesterday, crowds started gathering hours before the screening and in the end over 600 people tried to cram into the 400 person hall.

The film is available in German, English and Arabic. For those that didn't make it yesterday, here are part one and two of the film translated into English:

 
 

IMMIGRATION

‘Discrimination’: Austria’s benefit cuts for immigrants ‘go against free movement’

Benefit cuts imposed by Austria on immigrants whose children live in their country of origin contradict EU law becasue they constitute "discrimination on the ground of nationality", a legal adviser at the bloc's top court said on Thursday.

A picture of the sign and logo of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg
A picture of the sign and logo of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on January 13, 2020. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

The opinion is the latest legal hitch to befall a series of measures — imposed by a previous government that included the far-right — which sought to restrict benefit payments to foreigners.

Richard de la Tour, advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), said the cuts to child benefits constituted “an infringement of the right of free movement conferred on EU citizens”.

The specific case relates to reforms that came into effect in 2019 which indexed child benefits according to where the recipient’s children live.

This meant reduced payments for tens of thousands of eastern Europeans who work in Austria — notably in the care sector — but whose children remain in their countries of origin.

The advocate general’s advice is not binding on the court but it is seen as influential.

De la Tour found that the cuts were “indirect discrimination on the ground of nationality which is permissible only if it is objectively justified”, and that Austria had failed to do so.

They contravened the principle that “if a migrant worker pays social contributions and taxes in a member state, he or she must be able to benefit from the same allowances as nationals of that state”, he added.

In 2020 the European Commission, supported by six eastern member states, brought an action before the CJEU claiming Austria was “failing to fulfil its obligations”.

Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had said he hoped the cuts would save 114 million euros ($130 million) a year but in 2019 they recouped 62 million euros.

The former coalition also introduced benefit cuts for immigrants who failed to reach a certain level of German, but those measures were subsequently overturned by the Austrian courts.

The government that introduced in the cuts was brought down in a corruption scandal in May 2019.

It included the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (OeVP), which is still the senior partner in the current government.

However their current coalition partners, the Greens, opposed the benefit cuts at the time.

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