30 April 2014

The Ministry of the Interior announced on 19 April that 1,000 refugees from Syria would be resettled to Austria, thereby bringing Austria’s resettlement commitment to 1,500 refugees. In August 2013, Austria pledged to accept 500 refugees from war-torn Syria under a humanitarian admission programme.

Minister of the Interior, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, has said that women and children refugees will be prioritised and that special consideration will be given to persecuted Christians. The resettlement of the refugees will be financed under the Joint EU Resettlement Programme, under which Member States that receive resettled refugees submitted for resettlement consideration by UNHCR will be eligible for a lump sum of €6,000 per person arriving.

While welcoming the announcement to resettle the more vulnerable refugees as an important contribution to relieving the dire humanitarian situation, Asylkoordination, Austrian NGO and member of ECRE, has warned that the selection and entry of the refugees should be carried out quickly and not take months as the first group of 500 refugees have not yet all arrived. According to the European Resettlement Network Focal Point in Austria, of the first group of 500 refugees, 250 Syrian Christians with family ties in Austria (or other linkages) were selected in cooperation with the Church (mainly the Syrian-Orthodox Church) and have arrived in Austria. Another 250 most vulnerable Syrian refugees were selected by UNHCR and to date 47 people have arrived. 

Together with over 100 NGOs, Asylkoordination is calling on European leaders to give refugees a safe way into Europe, protect refugees arriving at the borders and reunite families torn apart by war. You can also speak up for increased resettlement by signing the #HelpSyriasRefugees petition. You can find the campaign’s recommendations here.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 April 2014
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