Afghan child commits suicide in Austria

Photo credit: The Local

TMP – 13/12/2017

Austrian police are investigating the alleged suicide of an 11-year-old Afghan migrant. Police have not released details surrounding the boy’s death but confirmed he died a day after being taken to hospital in the capital in 18 Nov.

The child had reportedly been struggling to help care for his six siblings at the camp in Baden, south of Vienna, where they had lived since last year. Austrian media reported that the boy had been left in charge of his siblings by his 23-year-old brother.

According to public broadcaster Oe1, officials had been made aware of the family’s precarious situation but failed to react. However, local authorities insist they noticed “nothing unusual”.

The boy’s death appeared to be the latest in a wave of suicides among young refugees in Europe. Austrian ombudsman Guenther Kraeuter announced yesterday he would open an inquiry.

Austria has received almost 150,000 asylum claims since 2015, making the wealthy nation of 8.75 million one of the highest recipients per capita in Europe’s migration crisis.
The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, regularly denounces “the lack of protective measures for migrant children in Europe”, accusing European Union member states of doing “much too little”.

The Independent reports that dozens of asylum seekers, including children, have reported rising anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses as they wait for months on end in “horrific conditions” to see if they will be granted passage to the Greek mainland or deported to Turkey.

There have been reports that Afghan asylum claims are taking much longer to process than those of Syrians due to a belief that many Western government’s do not believe Afghans are forced to leave their homes and are instead mainly economic migrants.