UNHCR shocked over dead bodies found near Austrian border

August 29, 2015 5:17 am 

GENEVA, Aug. 28 — The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday said it was deeply shocked and saddened at the grim discovery of the bodies of up to 70 people inside a truck abandoned near the Austrian border with Hungary.

Austrian police said that they believe the truck came from Hungary and entered Austria on Wednesday night or early on Thursday morning, and that the victims might have been dead for one or two days. Their identity is still unknown but it is presumed that they were being transported by smugglers.

UNHCR said this tragedy underscored the ruthlessness of people smugglers who have expanded their business from the Mediterranean Sea to the highways of Europe. "It showed they have no regard for human life and are only after profit," a statement said.

UNHCR expressed the hope this incident will result in strong cooperation among European police forces, intelligence agencies and international organizations to crack down on the smuggling trade while putting in place measures to protect and care for victims.

The UN refugee agency reiterated its call to European countries to approach the refugee crisis in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation and to provide those seeking safety in Europe with safe legal alternatives to dangerous irregular voyages. These legal avenues include resettlement or humanitarian admission programs, flexible visa policies and family reunification.

According to the latest Austrian official statistics, over 140,000 people sought asylum in Hungary so far this year, compared to 42,000 people last year. Most of those lodging asylum applications this year are nationals from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and they include around 7,000 unaccompanied children or separated from their parents.

Many refugees and migrants choose to leave Hungary for other countries in Europe. Every day up to 500 people sleep at the two main train stations in Budapest where volunteers look after their basic needs, including food, clothing and urgent medical attention, and where the city authorities give them access to sanitation facilities. (PNA/Xinhua)



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