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Votivkirche: one refugee deported

One of the four refugees who had been taken into custody pending deportation has now been deported to Hungary. The asylum seekers staying at the church "Votivkirche" in Vienna said that they felt abandoned.

A spokesman of the Police of Vienna said that the deportation was carried out in the course of the Dublin procedure. He said that another refugee was still in custody pending deportation but the other two refugees have been released due to health problems.

The Ministry of Interior emphasised that taking part in the protests had no effect on the legal situation of the concerned. The Ministry is still offering the refugees basic social services if legally possible. All the others would be taken care of by Caritas. Moreover, they can obtain advice about their options regarding the asylum procedure.

"We want to receive asylum, that is no crime", one of the refugees who has been staying at Votivkirche since the middle of December said. They have repeatedly demanded a meeting with the authorities in order to achieve their right to stay in Austria or in another safe country.

The refugees complain that they are not taken seriously and nobody is assuming responsibility for their problem. They are considering expanding the protests: this could even mean the mobilisation of all refugees in Austria.

The asylum seekers also criticised the UN Refugee Commissariat (UNHCR) who was supposed to meet them on Sunday. UNHCR asked for a change of place at short notice.

A spokesperson of the Commissariat said that the refugees are best advised to end their hunger strike in favour of other forms of protest and take on individual legal advice.

The refugees started the hunger strike again on 1 February. They refuse to leave the church before their demands are considered.

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