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Attacks against Migrant Shelters Soar in Austria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Migrants try to cross the Greek border into Macedonia. Reuters

London- Austria recorded a sharp rise in attacks against migrant shelters last year, with 49 cases that mostly went unsolved compared to 25 in 2015, authorities said Friday.

The incidents, revealed in a response by the interior ministry to a parliamentary enquiry, ranged from racist graffiti to arson, stones being thrown through windows and gas pipes being slashed, Agence France Presse reported.

According to opposition lawmaker Albert Steinhauser who made the enquiry, 44 of the incidents were clearly motivated by hatred.

Austria, a nation of 8.7 million people, has received more than 130,000 asylum applications since 2015 following the onset of the European Union’s biggest migration crisis since World War II.

The interior ministry said there were also 49 incidents carried out by migrants themselves at the shelters including violence, death threats, stalking and vandalism. No comparison figures from prior years were released.

The opposition far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) has stoked concerns about the influx to boost support, with its candidate Norbert Hofer coming close to being elected president last year.

Chancellor Christian Kern also wrote to Brussels this week looking for Austria to be exempted from an EU scheme to take in migrants relocated from hotspots Italy and Greece.

According to Reuters, Austria said on Tuesday that it will seek an exemption from having to accept more asylum-seekers under the EU relocation system, arguing that it has already taken in its fair share during Europe’s migration crisis.

Fewer than 14,500 asylum-seekers have been relocated from Greece and Italy, the first EU countries that many refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa set foot in, under the two-year EU plan that was supposed to cover 160,000 people and which expires in September.