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Austrian Red Cross provides support to 570,000 refugees since beginning of crisis
December 04,2015   By:Xinhua
VIENNA, Dec.4,2015-- The Austrian Red Cross has provided support to 570,000 refugees crossing into Austria since it began its major aid efforts on September 5, the charity's president said at a press conference Thursday. 
Gerald Schoepfer said the organization's structure which involves 70,000 volunteer workers and a 7,500 full-time staff, has proven reliable in the face of an "enormous" challenge. 
The Red Cross assistance to the refugees has included the distribution of 1.5 million meals, medical care for 70,000 people, and the transportation of 3,000 people to hospitals. 
The organization also provided 50,000 field beds, 400,000 blankets, 10,000 mattresses, and 7,000 sleeping bags. 
The majority of the refugees have traveled onwards primarily to Germany, the Red Cross therefore provided them 24 to 36 hours of care as they crossed into Austria and journeyed onwards. 
Schoepfer said however he believed "the greatest challenge is yet to come," with 90,000 asylum applications expected for the present year and 120,000 for 2016. He thus called for a "comprehensive strategy" concerning integration as well as housing. 
The organization said it has so far received 9.8 million euros (10.7 million U.S. dollars) in funding from the federal government, and had by the end of October asked for 14 million euros. 
It said there are presently 8,000 refugees living in emergency quarters in the country, with 20,000 total places available. 
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