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Attacks on asylum centres increase in Austria

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Attacks on asylum centres increase in Austria
Refugees at an asylum centre in Vienna. Photo: UNHCR
12:06 CET+01:00
Attacks on asylum centres in Austria are increasing, particularly in the state of Styria in the southeast of the country.

Figures released by the interior ministry show that in the first half of this year there were almost as many attacks on asylum centres as in the whole of 2015.

The most common attacks were arson, damage to property and Neo-Nazi graffiti or hate speech. Last year, 25 attacks on asylum centres were reported and registered. In the first six months of 2016, there were already 24 attacks.

Early last year, most attacks directed against asylum seekers took the form of hate speech in online forums, but over the course of the year a more worrying trend developed - with threats and verbal abuse moving to the streets.

The number of attacks on property rose sharply in January and February this year. Some of the attacks were against property that was planned as accommodation for asylum seekers, and some attacks took place on properties where asylum seekers are already resident. In Styria there were six attacks on asylum centres in the first six months of this year.

In Upper Austria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg there were four attacks in each state between January and June this year. However, hardly any of the perpetrators have been identified or charged. In just two of the six cases in Styria were police able to identify suspects and launch an investigation.

Styria borders Slovenia, and thousands of refugees and migrants crossed the border there last year to get into Austria after travelling via the so-called Balkans route.

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