International Humanitarian Law Workshop

Background information

The workshop on “International Humanitarian Law”, conducted by the Austrian Red Cross, took place at the headquarter of the Austrian Red Cross on 15 of December from 16:00 – 18:00. The workshop was held by Günter Stummer, responsible for International Relations at the youth section of the Austrian Red Cross. The aim of the workshop was to inform the students about the current situation of refugees in Austria and the contribution of the Red Cross. Günter Stummer also introduced the students to the International Humanitarian Law. The YEA team was represented by Lena and Ian.

Main Events

Günter Stummer started the workshop off by arising the question of how many refugees are really living in Austria. Pointing out that although about 800.000 refugees crossed the Austrian border in 2015, Austria was and still continues to be just a “transit country” for them. Only about 5% of refugees coming to Austria are applying for asylum, while the rest continues to travel to another European country. The Austrian Red Cross is taking care of those who are staying in Austria and is e.g. in charge
of the refugee camps.

But who is a refugee? While answering this question, Günter Stummer summarised the agreement of the Geneva Convention in 1951 and explained the difference between a refugee, a migrant and an internally displaced person. According to the Geneva Convention a refugee is a person, who left his home country because of well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Every nation has to grant asylum for every person, that is defined as refugee as described above.

The students were really eager to learn more about the Geneva Convention and the implementation of it. Bringing up the topic of prejudices and their meaning for the situation of refugees in Austria started a heated discussion.

Closing

Günter Stummer closed the workshop by reminding the students that every asylum seeker is a human being and no one should ever forget that.

Workshop report by Ian Langner

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