Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April 2014, 11:13 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Austria

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Austria , 25 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b459328.html [accessed 23 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At the end of 2003, Austria hosted over 17,600 refugees and asylum seekers, including some 15,800 with pending cases and some 1,830 persons granted asylum during the year

Asylum seekers filed about 32,400 applications during the year, a decrease of about 13 percent from 2002. The largest numbers of asylum seekers came from Russia (6,700), Turkey (2,800), India (2,800), Serbia and Montenegro (2,500), and Afghanistan (2,400).

The Federal Refugee Office issued about 4,500 decisions during the year, some 1,200 of them positive; an approval rate of around 27 percent, up from 20 percent in 2002. The refugee office denied around 3,100 claims deeming 216 them manifestly unfounded, and administratively closed 28,400 cases.

New Developments

A new asylum law – which the UN High Commissioner for Refugees described as one of the strictest in Europe – only allowed asylum seekers who arrive at airports, not land borders, to apply for asylum since the law deems all bordering countries safe. In cases where authorities cannot determine how a claimant arrived, they will accept the claim. Within 72 hours, authorities will decide whether to grant asylum, refer the case for further hearings, or refuse asylum. The law also prohibits the introduction of new facts on appeal, except in cases where the applicant can show medically certified trauma. The law allows authorities to deport failed asylums seekers even while appeal is pending.

Hundreds of Chechens left the Czech Republic to seek asylum in Austria during the year, hoping enter the EU. Border guards turned many of them back.

The Supreme Court ruled that the government's policy excluding certain asylum seekers from federal care was discriminatory and the government to reverse its policy. (For details about the policy see http://www.refugees.org/world/countryindex/austria.cfm).

In April, Austria's highest administrative court ruled that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that had housed destitute asylum seekers over the past 30 years could claim reimbursement from the government. In response, the government quickly passed a law – retroactive to January 1, 2003 – that asylum seekers cared for by NGOs were not entitled to state care.

In November 2003 Austria's largest reception facility, Traiskirchen, was filled to capacity and officials announced that asylum seekers could not receive accommodation and assistance, leaving many homeless. In December, the government signed a contract with three NGOs to house asylum seekers.

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