Amnesty International: migrant rights in Austria violated

AP News
Posted: Aug 14, 2015 7:41 AM
Amnesty International: migrant rights in Austria violated

VIENNA (AP) — More than 1,000 people, including unaccompanied children, are camping in the open at Austria's main migrant collection center, just one example of massive human rights violations due to overcrowding, Amnesty International said Friday.

The rights watchdog also described inadequate conditions in the number of beds, health care and other services, particularly for unaccompanied children, at the Traiskirchen center south of Vienna.

Members of the Amnesty team that visited the center Aug. 6 spoke of migrants seeking out shady areas of the center's grounds to escape from relentless heat, and of showers without curtains shared by both sexes. They said four doctors and three psychologists, working only a few hours a day, are responsible for the care of the more than 4,000 people at Traiskirchen.

"Showers for women were organized like a peep-show," said Amnesty Austria head Heinz Patzelt. "I am unspeakably angry."

He told reporters the conditions represent a failure to care for refugees fleeing wars, and violate U.N conventions.

The report said "access to adequate sanitary facilities was limited and the food supply was considered problematic.

"Health care was inadequate, asylum-seekers often had to accept long waiting periods up to days, meaning that serious medical problems could occur."

Amnesty noted "inhumane conditions ... for many asylum-seekers." It said that each of the 30 migrants interviewed by the Amnesty team had "neither clear information about the status of their situation nor what would happen next," leading to insecurity and fear.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry, acknowledged a "precarious situation" at the center, describing it as an "extraordinary situation" resulting from a surge of migrants seeking asylum.

The statement noted that the federal government is working on a law that would allow migrants to be housed on or in property owned by the government, over objections of Austria's provinces that have rejected migrant quotas.


AP video journalist Philipp Jenne contributed.