BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — The latest on the mass movement of asylum-seekers and others seeking refuge in Europe. All times local:
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is now in the refugee-housing business.
The world-famous ensemble on Monday presented a project that will turn a former inn southwest of Vienna into apartments for four refugee families.
Organizers say a public part of the building in the village of St. Aegyd will be used for German-language courses.
The orchestra plans to pay part of the 250,000-euro ($265,000) sale price for the building from its own pocket and hopes donations and crowdfunding will account for the rest.
But the orchestra’s support won’t stop there. Spokesman Andreas Grossbauer says members will remain “personally connected” with residents of the home through benefit concerts and other activities.
Austria is a main destination for migrants looking for a better life in the European Union.
Nordic immigration officials have reported a recent drop in the number of asylum-seekers arriving in the region, likely caused by stricter border controls, ID checks and tighter conditions for granting residency.
Sweden, which recently reversed its lenient asylum policies including canceling permanent residence permits for some groups and limiting the rights of family reunification, said some 6,100 asylum-seekers arrived last week, down from 8,550 the previous week and 10,500 during the second week of November.
Norwegian immigration officials reported Monday that last week’s asylum-seekers fell to 969 from 2,108 the previous week and more than 2,500 a week earlier.
In Finland, the numbers also fell— to 1,600 asylum-seekers during the past two weeks, from some 4,000 during the first two weeks of November.
Slovakia is giving asylum to a group of 149 Christians who live inIraq and are threatened by extremism.
Interior Minister Robert Kalinak says the 25 families will arrive in the country in next few days. Kalinak says that “they would lose their lives if we didn’t help them.”
The families will be initially placed in a center in eastern Slovakia and the Catholic Church has agreed to help them integrate into society in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Slovakia strictly opposes a European Union plan to redistribute 120,000 asylum-seekers among the bloc’s 28 nations.
The government of Prime Minister Robert Fico is planning to a legal complaint against it at an EU court in Luxembourg.
Kalinak said Monday the complaint could be filed as soon as later this week.