27 February 2015

A new AIDA report shows that shortcomings in the asylum system in Austria, and the lack of reception places, lead to serious overcrowding in the initial reception centre, resulting in some asylum seekers having to sleep in sport halls and, at the end of 2014, in military barracks.

BFA, the national authority responsible for processing claims, was understaffed and had experienced problems with its database, which led to only a few asylum applications being processed. In Austria, from January to June 2014, 8,395 people applied for asylum. As asylum applications continued to increase in the second half of the year, and more people were awaiting a decision for longer periods, Austria’s reception places for asylum seekers were soon not sufficient to accommodate all asylum seekers in the system.

The report also shows that unaccompanied children seeking asylum suffered heavily due to the system’s failures. According to the report, many asylum seekers under 18 saw no substantive action taken on their case after registration of their claim. No decision was taken from January to June 2014. Reception places adapted to the needs of children were lacking, leading to unaccompanied children being accommodated, together with adults, in regular centres. 

The government has been working on a new programme for the distribution of asylum seekers across the country, which should be operational by July 2015. But the report notes that no draft law is yet available which would be necessary to implement the changes.

Austria resettled 500 refugees from Syria in 2014 and has committed to resettle a further 1,000 Syrian refugees.


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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 27 February 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.