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Austria: Schaffelhofer (Catholic Action) against new asylum-seeking rules. “Do not pursue populism”

The president of Austria’s Catholic Action (KaÖ), Gerda Schaffelhofer, criticised the government’s measures that restrict asylum rights: “The attempt at pursuing right-wing populism has already been punished at the recent president election”, she said, and “the new rules do not only frustrate the fundamental rights of people who look for protection, they consign them even more to exploiters”. According to the leader of KaÖ, “the clampdown on the asylum law could turn out to be unfit as a measure to fight the right wing in Austria, since it makes refugees the scapegoats of discontent”. According to Schaffelhofer, the negative results achieved by the People’s Party-Social Democrat government coalition, with the nominee president of the xenophobic extreme right triumphing on the first round, suggests that “those who tried to pursue nationwide populism has been punished, and instead of drawing appropriate conclusions from the election debacle and putting their hand at the measures asked for by the majority of Austrians, who want a humane, accepting politics, the government parties chose to raise a wall and fuel the fear of refugees”. The secretary of Caritas Austria, Bernd Wachter, points out that the closing of the borders and the restrictive rules, “not just in terms of solidarity in the refugee crisis but also economically, are a loss for Austria: for our country, border controls account for up to 210 million euros’ losses a year”.

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