Syria teen rescued in Austria mountains as new smuggling routes used

AFP - [email protected]
Syria teen rescued in Austria mountains as new smuggling routes used
This handout picture taken on March 3, 2024 and released on March 5, 2024 by the Bergrettung Villach Mountain Rescue Service shows a policeman looking on as mountain rescuers save a 14-year-old refugee from Syria after a hiker had heard the calls for help of the boy, in Rosenbach near Villach, Austria. (AFP PHOTO / Bergrettung Villach Mountain Rescue Service)

Austrian mountain rescuers have saved a Syrian teen found injured and suffering from severe hypothermia, they said Tuesday, as new smuggling routes are being used to avoid stepped-up border controls in central Europe.


Central European countries stepped up border controls last year as the numbers of migrants and asylum seekers crossing into the EU has risen. This has led to new smuggling routes to be used.

Rescuers on Sunday airlifted the 14-year-old found "severely hypothermic and barely reactive" at 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) altitude in "partly snowy, steep, wet and densely wooded terrain".

A hiker had heard the calls for help of the boy -- who complained of "severe pain" -- and called the rescue services, they said in a statement.

Authorities are still investigating how the boy, described as being illegally in the country, ended up on the mountains near the Slovenian border.

Earlier this winter, a refugee family was rescued in the same area in the southern province of Carinthia after getting lost in the mountains on a suspected new smuggling route, according to police, cited by the Krone tabloid.


Asylum applications in the EU surged to over one million last year, a seven-year high, with Syrians then Afghans remaining the top groups seeking protection, according to the bloc's asylum agency.

Germany received the biggest number of asylum applications in 2023 -- around 29 percent of the total.


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