UN refugee agency concerned over Austria’s new asylum policy

1 October 2002

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today voiced concern about a new policy in Austria which bars some asylum-seekers from government-run shelters while their requests for protection are being processed.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today voiced concern about a new policy in Austria which bars some asylum-seekers from government-run shelters while their requests for protection are being processed.

The new regulation “could lead to hundreds of people being evicted from government-run accommodation,” said agency spokesman Kris Janowski, voicing fear that it could also “trigger an exodus of asylum seekers from Austria to other European Union countries.”

The spokesman called the rule “unhelpful, especially at a time when the European Union is trying to harmonize its asylum policies.”

Agency representatives have expressed concern about the new regulation to the Austrian authorities in Vienna. “UNHCR regrets the fact that in interviews with the media, Austrian officials implied that the new ruling had the support of the UNHCR, which is not the case,” Mr. Janowski said. “There is nothing in UNHCR’s policy statements that can be construed as condoning the hardening of reception conditions for asylum seekers in Austria.”

 

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