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UKRAINE

UPDATE: Almost 120,000 refugees have arrived in Austria from Ukraine

Austria has received tens of thousands of people from Ukraine so far, but the vast majority have decided to continue their journeys to other countries in Europe

Almost 120,000 refugees have arrived from Ukraine in Austria since the Russian invasion. Photo: Emmy Midgley.
Many refugees from Ukraine are arriving in Vienna. Photo: Emma Midgley.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Austria has received some 117,000 refugees fleeing the war, Austria’s Ministry of the Interior confirmed on Monday afternoon

Only around a quarter of the arrivals, though, currently want to stay in Austria.

But, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the proportion is likely to increase in the country.

The UN has already warned that the subsequent waves of refugees will be people who do not have any contact points in Western Europe. So far, most of the Ukrainians have travelled from Austria further to Spain, Italy, or Germany, where there are larger Ukrainian communities.

READ MORE: How Vienna is helping thousands of Ukrainian refugees arriving by train

As the war rages on, those arriving might want to stay at their first place of arrival, as they have no other ties to other countries. However, they also tend to be more vulnerable people: those without passports or money, the UN had said.

Formal registry

It has been difficult to measure how many people have stayed in Austria and even how many have arrived.

This is because Ukrainian citizens don’t need to register for short-term stays in Austria. Besides, many have stayed with private households, friends, or even short-term rentals.

Starting this Monday, 14, refugees wishing to stay in Austria will be formally registered. They will receive an identity card and basic care.  

READ MORE: How Austria and Austrians are helping Ukrainian refugees

The country has set out 34 fixed registration offices where refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine can go for assistance and documentation.

Useful vocabulary

Flüchtlinge – refugees

Weiterreise – onward journey

Registrierungsstellen – registration offices

Notquartiere – emergency quarters

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ENERGY

Vienna forced to dim street lighting and cancel some Christmas illuminations

Christmas illuminations in Vienna will also be scaled back this year as part of the city's energy saving measures.

Vienna forced to dim street lighting and cancel some Christmas illuminations

Vienna, a city known for its Christmas markets and its New Year concert, is cutting back on public lighting in the face of soaring energy prices.

“There will be no Christmas illuminations this year on the Ring,” the famous boulevard that encircles the centre of the Austrian capital, city spokeswoman Roberta Kraft told AFP.

READ MORE: Five of the biggest challenges facing Austria right now

And the lights at the Christmas market in the square in front of the city hall would only be switched on at night and not at dusk, as in previous years, “which is to say about an hour later, on average, every day”, she said.

The city authorities said they had not calculated exactly how much they would save, but the move comes after energy prices have skyrocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its response to Western sanctions.

Last Friday, the Austrian Energy Agency announced that its electricity price index for September rose by more than 256 percent year-on-year.

READ ALSO: Inflation at 9.2% in July: How to beat rising prices in Austria

Austria, with its population of nine million, is very dependent on tourism and its end-of-year celebrations are a major motor of the economy.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down much international travel, more than four million people visited Vienna’s famous Christmas markets in 2019.

In 2021, around 30 of Vienna’s shopping streets were lit up for seven hours a day, from November 12 until early January.

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