European Refugee Crisis Escalates

In One Week, Another 700 Refugees in Austria

The refugee crisis in the European Union has escalated, with more than 700 people attempting to enter Austria alone since 30 August.

Refugees have also been trying to get into Spain via Morocco. One man was hidden underneath a car hood, with his body wrapped around the motor. He was treated for oxygen deprivation after inhaling noxious car fumes.

Details are emerging about a group of refugees who drowned after trying to get from Turkey to the Greek Island of Kos. Bodies, including those of children, have been washing ashore near the Turkish resort town of Bodrum.

An abandoned van on the Austrian-Hungarian border was found with 71 bodies of refugees, including a baby girl, who had died days earlier in an attempt to reach the West. 

The horror of the van has not deterred other refugees from trying to enter Europe using similar methods. Police in eastern Austria said that since 30 August, 700 refugees have arrived, and around a third of them have been found in lorries or vans. Many of the refugees have come over the border from Hungary. Police have arrested 24 people for smuggling.

Thousands of people have attempted to cross into Europe in 2015. International Organisation for Migration figures show that so far over 234,770 refugees have landed in Greece alone this year, which is more than the number in 2014 for  Europe-wide migration. Another 114,276 people have made it to Italy.

Many never made it to Europe, either dying or vanishing on the journey. In a statement last week, United Nations Refugee Agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said around 2500 people are believed to have died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe this year.

Many of the deaths were caused by drowning or suffocating in dangerous or unseaworthy boats. 

Germany is taking in the bulk of the refugees, having received roughly 43 percent.

The distribution of the refugees has been criticised. According to Italy’s foreign ministry, Italy, France and Germany are calling for “fair” distribution of refugees in Europe.

Peter Ammon, Germany’s ambassador to the UK, has heavily criticised the number of refugees that Britain takes in, especially compared to Germany. 

“Britain has taken in refugees for centuries and I think not to your disadvantage and I think we will expect that all partners will make their best efforts to contribute to the solution of this problem,” he said.

Many refugees come from war-torn or crisis-stricken countries such as Guinea and Syria.

This article first appeared in Issue 22, 2015.
Posted 11:25am Sunday 6th September 2015 by Bridie Boyd.