Help for refugees at the central railway station in Vienna started

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Caritas expects “worst humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War.“ For the time being, Austria is mainly a transit country.

They are probably the forerunners of the worst humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War: for days now, the number of people landing in Austria after an often chaotic flight from Ukraine has been steadily increasing.

Once again, Vienna’s central railway station is a hotspot – for the time being, it functions primarily as a transit station. Most of them are mothers with their children who gather at the Caritas information points at the central station.

Most of the displaced only travel with light luggage, as the flight was too hasty to pack much. “I made my way from Kyiv to Romania with my children,” said one displaced woman. Somehow she ended up in Vienna. “But our destination is France because that’s where my brother lives,” she said. The children’s father had to stay behind to fight. Whether the woman and his children will ever see him again is uncertain.

At present, Austria is primarily a transit country. Of the approximately 45,000 displaced persons counted in Austria so far, 75 to 80 percent travel because other European countries such as France, Italy, or Germany have much larger Ukrainian communities.

Emergency accommodation with 50 beds

Accordingly, the Caritas translators at the station are mainly busy helping those affected continue their journey. For displaced persons who have to spend the night at the station, emergency accommodation with 50 camp beds has been set up. Forty people per night currently take advantage of this offer, but many also sleep in the waiting halls.

Austria’s role as a transit country is likely to change in the coming weeks, however, according to the Secretary-General of Caritas Vienna, Klaus Schwertner. “We are facing the biggest humanitarian catastrophe since World War II,” he said.

Schwertner anticipates a flight movement of unimagined proportions. At the beginning of the war – the refugee agency UNHCR counted 1.7 million displaced persons. More than one million of them are in Poland alone. According to Schwertner, the Poles are incredibly helpful, but they will not cope with the problems on their own.

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