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Austria: F. Balleis (Jrs), “those who have never seen a refugee should shut up”

Catholic organisations keep opposing to the Austrian government’s ruling that puts a cap at 37,500 asylum seekers in Austria for 2016 and for the years to come. Father Peter Balleis, director of the Jesuits Refugee Service (Jrs) for Austria, defined such cap on refugees as “a destructive decision, and the discussion is frightful”. According to father Balleis, people who strive to help the refugees should share their experiences more powerfully and explicitly, so “the discussion will not be left to polarisers”, since “those who have never seen a refugee should shut up”. Balleis pointed out that, “if Europe had met its international commitments, many refugees would not have fled”, speaking of the shrinking number of humanitarian aids in Syria. The Austrian Catholic Social Academy (Ksoe) criticised this measure too: “The boat is not full, especially when it is about people who want to save their lives”, the president of the Academy, Magdalena Holztrattner, said to the national TV Orf, because “the situation of the refugees is a global challenge: there can only be a European solution. An option could be for the countries that receive least refugees to financially support those who seem to be most merciful”.

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