8 January 2016


ECRE has published a report this week on a fact-finding visit to Austria conducted at the beginning of December 2015. It reveals obstacles to accessing protection in the country and documents the shortcomings in the reception system.

The report finds severe restrictions on asylum seekers’ access to the procedure, stemming from severe delays in even the first stages of registration – such as the first interview with the police (Erstbefragung) – as well as from the legal formalities attached to registration. The latter may often not be completed if there is no reception place available for the applicant.

Additionally, the use of Dublin procedures, even where there is no prospect of transferring a person to another country, further impedes access to the Austrian asylum process, while people may wait for over a year for a substantive decision by the asylum authority on their claim.

This state of legal limbo is coupled with an escalating phenomenon of homelessness or inadequate accommodation, thereby running the risk of making destitution part of the asylum system itself. The report highlights that over 7,000 asylum seekers are currently residing in transit centres for a long period of time. These generally consist of big halls or tents with rows of beds; offering some sanitary facilities, but not meant for long-term use. These conditions are not in compliance with the recast Reception Conditions Directive as they offer little if any privacy, no special provisions for vulnerable persons, no trained staff and substandard sanitary conditions.

These observations are corroborated by the findings of the updated AIDA report on Austria, published in December 2015.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 8 January 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.