Author Topic: Pakistani, Afghan refugees in Vienna end hunger strike  (Read 1812 times)

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Offline anon1984

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Pakistani, Afghan refugees in Vienna end hunger strike
« on: January 25, 2013, 00:50:27 AM »
Pakistani, Afghan refugees in Vienna end hunger strike
VIENNA, Jan 23: Some 40 asylum seekers, mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan, were eating again on Wednesday after calling a temporary halt to a 31-day hunger strike in a Vienna church against conditions for refugees in Austria.

“We are interrupting our hunger strike for several days,” 20-year-old Pakistani Sayed Muhammed Mustafa told the Kurier daily, without giving a reason for the halt. “But we are going to stay in the church.”
 
Doctors had begun to express serious concerns about the protesters, who on average had lost 15 per cent of their body weight, with ambulances being called out to the Votivkirche in central Vienna around 30 times to provide treatment.
 
The protesters’ demands include being able to choose where they live, access to jobs, schools and social security and end to forced deportations.
 
They had consumed nothing but water, tea and clear soup since late December.
 
Klaus Schwertner from the charity Caritas welcomed the halt to the hunger strike, telling Kurier that he hoped the government “will now take steps to engage with the refugees”.
 
The interior ministry said however that no further meeting was planned and called on the protesters to accept offers of sheltered accommodation. “We welcome the end of the hunger strike as a first step. We hope now that the second step will be to accept that offer,” a spokesman said.
 
Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said she would look into improving the provision of interpreters for asylum seekers and that the creation this year of a new authority for refugees would improve matters.
 
She rejected however giving asylum seekers work permits after six months in the country, saying that after three months they could perform seasonal work such as in agriculture or tourism.
 
She ruled out any “structural changes” in the way Austria handled refugees.
 
Last year 17,415 people applied for asylum in Austria, 20.8 per cent more than in 2011, with Afghans the biggest group.
 
Rules on asylum seekers in Austria, which has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union, are often EU-wide regulations and therefore difficult to change.
 
Government figures on Tuesday showed that 81 per cent of applications for asylum from Syrians were accepted in 2012, against 73 per cent for Iranians and 60 per cent from Somalia.—AFP


http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/pakistani-afghan-refugees-in-vienna-end-hunger-strike/
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