#RefugeesWelcome – A Factsheet
This hashtag unites, what is currently (and for sad reasons) the most beautiful thing happening in Austria and all over Europe. Crisis and misery are knocking at the European Union’s door and hundreds of volunteers are trying to answer as best as they can, regardless what officials and politics are doing.
The refugee crisis is filling up timelines, newsstreams, newspapers and tabloids. Information of different levels of complexity is travelling at an enormous speed and today doesn’t know what tomorrow brings. This leads to a lot of confusion and even to dangerous half knowledge, for this reason we want to shed a light on what is going with a little fact sheet for expats:
Frustration, politics and the Dublin Regulation
To explain the political situation, which led to the refugee crisis would fill books, rather than a blog page entry. Briefly said, people are fleeing from war in middle east. Most of them are young men with their families, who are seeking peace and a normal life in Europe, until the war with Isis and the civil war in Syria are over. More than 4 million Syrians are fleeing the war zone according to current estimations. Most of them find shelter in camps in neighborhood countries. (Turkey 1.8 mil., Libanon 1.2 mil., Jordan 0.6 mil., Irak 2.5 mil.)
A part of them are undertaking the dangerous journey to Europe, where they are promised asylum. The Dublin Regulation obligates European Union countries to grant an asylum procedure to refugees seeking political protection. To avoid multiple asylum procedures in different countries, refugees are registered and are applying for asylum in the country of registration. This is problematic for refugees and nations as well and causes refugees to hide from authorities, until they arrive in their state of destination. In situations of crisis in their home state refugees are granted asylum in countries via special regulation. Whilst Syrian refugees fall into this special category, refugees from other countries are not so “lucky” and seek to avoid contact with authorities to evade the Dublin Regulation in certain countries.
People in Austria are very frustrated with the lack of official solutions by the government, politics on the other hand need to wait for answers from Brussels to plan permanent allocation, plainly said. The actual political situation is much more delicate, because the states of the European Union fail to agree on solutions for the crisis on short hand. Because of that people in affected states have started to take matters in their own hands and organized themselves to help the refugees. There is also a lot of fear and anger in the right wing of the population, which is expressed in inhumane statements on social media, stating that Syrian refugees are not of concern for Austria and therefore should be left to their own fate. Right wing politics are breeding on this attitude and there is a lot of tension, between the left and right wing factions and population.
Humanists and more open minded people solidarize strongly with refugees and have taken matters into their own hands to help them. They have organized in groups and are working with NGOs and official institutions to provide supply and volunteers for the refugees.
Nickelsdorf, Traiskirchen and Heiligenkreuz
These three towns are among the first destinations refugees are brought to, when they come to Austria. Whilst Nickelsdorf and Heiligenkreuz were set up temporarily due to the necessity of finding a space near the Hungarian border, during the last two weeks, Traiskirchen is an official refugee hostel in Lower Austria, which has been completely overcrowded in August and therefore earned a lot of media attention.
The hashtag stands for Hauptbahnhof Wien (central station Vienna) and is also the banner under which volunteers, organizations and the public communicate and organize. The non-profit organization Train of Hope is coordinating the webpage www.refugees.at, twitter and the facebook page and are currently updating donation lists to supply the many helpers and refugees, who volunteer at the central trainstation.
#hbfvie are the most famous, but not the only organization coordinating help for refugees. There are numerous storages, shelters and helping organizations all over the city, who are organized individually, for example Westbahnhof Volunteers, Refugees Welcome to Austria or Der geheime Kunstsalon at Zieglergasse.
Röszke – Gyor – Hegyeshalom – Horgos – Tovarnik
These are all locations near borders, where volunteers and NGOs set up camps to provide first aid and supply for travelling refugees. Last week, when most of the refugees came from Serbia to Hungary, Röszke, Gyor and Hegyeshalom were the destination of aid-convoys. Der geheime Kunstsalon and many others organized these convoys of volunteers and brought supplies to refugees in Hungary, which they had gathered beforehand. With the recent political development in Hungary (closing the border between Serbia and Hungary) refugees trying to get to central Europe via Croatia and Slovenia. Horgos (Serbia) and Tovarnia (Croatia) are refugee camps on this route and destination of convoys, which are organized via a facebook event page, which is updated frequently.
The given adresses are just examples for numerous places, where goods and money can be donated and volunteers are coordinated. The offical Austrian broadcasting agency ORF has provided a homepage for donations and information.