Almost two thousand Asians expelled from Uganda are spending their first Christmas season in Europe in cramped refugee camps.
Almost two thousand Asians expelled from Uganda are spending their first Christmas season in Europe in cramped refugee camps. Austria, Europe's main refugee centre, took more than fifteen hundred of the expelled Asians to ease the problems caused by the short term deadline they were given to leave Uganda. The Austrian authorities said at the time they were accepted, that only two hundred could stay permanently. Of the three-thousand-five-hundred Asians to settle in Western Europe, the future is secure for only about fourteen hundred.
Austrian officials have expressed worries that they may end up bearing most of the responsibility for the Asians in their temporary charge. However, the Austrian Government has set a February deadline to solve the problem. The Austrians are concerned that many countries accepting refugees are doing so on a selective basis, choosing first those with high qualifications and skills. Officials from the United Nations High Commission for refugees in Vienna said that nations offering permanent homes should do so on a non-selective basis.
SYNOPSIS: As Europe prepared for Christmas Day, almost two thousand Asians expelled from Uganda were spending an apprehensive festive season in refugee camps. In Vienna, the brightly-lit streets and scenes of Christmas shopping contrasted sharply with the situation in the camps. Vienna has been the main coordinating centre for Europe's efforts to find permanent homes for those Ugandan Asians settling in Europe. Austria is caring for more than fifteen-hundred refugees, but the government has imposed a deadline for February to solve the problem.
For the refugees temporarily in Austria, the prospect of a bitterly cold winter and heavy snow were just minor problems. At the time they arrived, Austrian authorities said only two hundred could stay. They accepted the larger number temporarily to ease the problems caused by the Asians' expulsion from Uganda on short notice.
In may cases, the refugees will celebrate Christmas in cramped dormitories and with no certain knowledge of where they will be in two months. Refugee officials in Vienna were talking of a looming crisis, with United Nations refugee funds running low, and countries slow in offering homes to the stateless Asians.