Refugees stranded on Austrian border without food and water

2015-10-27 16:59
Migrants wait for buses after crossing the border between Slovenian and Austria in Spielfeld, Austria. (Ronald Zak, AP)

Migrants wait for buses after crossing the border between Slovenian and Austria in Spielfeld, Austria. (Ronald Zak, AP)

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Vienna - Hundreds of refugees were left in no-man's-land on the Austrian-Slovenian border on Tuesday after spending the night in the open when Austria refused to let them enter.

The refugees had been accompanied by Slovenia soldiers to the border and left there on Monday. They were without water and food and were lighting fires to keep warm.

There were many families with children among the crowds that were being held behind a fence.

They repeatedly chanted in unison, "We want to go!"

A spokesperson for the Austrian chancellor said on Tuesday that Vienna was trying to come to an arrangement with Germany on the issue of refugees.

"[Austrian] Chancellor Werner Faymann is in the closest of contact with [German] Chancellor Angela Merkel," Josef Ostermayer said in Vienna, adding that he was co-operating with his German counterpart Peter Altmaier, Berlin's refugee czar.

The comments come as tensions rise between the two European Union neighbours with one leading regional politician on the German side of the border accusing the Austrians of not coordinating properly, which was harming neighbourly relations.

Horst Seehofer, premier of the German state of Bavaria, went on to demand that Merkel talk directly to the government in Vienna.

Ostermayer responded to this criticism by saying: "Once the refugees are already on the move, it is more a matter of deciding whether we provide the people with medical care and food or we let them freeze to death. In this challenging situation we must behave humanely."

He added that the key was to stop the refugees from fleeing in the first place, which would require Turkey's co-operation, among other things. He also insisted that the refugees must be registered on the EU's external borders.

Read more on:    germany  |  austria  |  migrants
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