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EU warns Austria not to cap asylum-seeker numbers

[JURIST] A top migration official at EU has warned [AP report] Austria on Thursday not to go ahead with the implementation of its plans to cap the asylum-seeker numbers, stating that any such move would be unlawful. Dimitris Avramopoulos wrote a letter to Austria's interior minister stating that Austria has a legal obligation to accept asylum applications made on its territory or at its border. He further added that any move to the contrary "would be plainly incompatible with Austria's obligations" under EU and international law. This new development has come in the face of a statement released on Wednesday by Austria's Interior Minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, in which he said that Austria would allow a maximum of 80 asylum applications [press release, in German] per day at southern border crossing points. Avramopoulos also warned Austria not to allow individuals to travel through its territory if their aim is to apply for asylum elsewhere.

The issue of migrant rights has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Earlier this month the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas [official website] rejected [order, PDF] a Texas lawsuit seeking to halt the federal resettlement [JURIST report] of Syrian refugees in the state. Judge David Godbey ruled that Texas officials had failed to show a "substantial threat of irreparable injury" in the request for an injunction to stop further Syrian refugee resettlement. Also earlier this month the EU Commissioner stated that Turkey must ensure [JURIST report] that fewer refugees enter Greece by keeping more refugees in their country. In November UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile addressed [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly and cautioned the international community to avoid discrimination against Muslims, especially refugees and migrants entering Europe, as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris a week earlier. In October Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the thirtieth session of the Human Rights Council in September in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis.

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