Migration again a hot topic in Austria as flows increase “significantly” – EURACTIV.com

Migration is once again becoming a hot topic in Austrian politics as asylum applications have increased ‘dynamically, dramatically’, with Austria registering 68,800 migrants and 440 smugglers since the launch of its anti-trafficking operation in May.

Migration issues have long dominated Austrian politics, contributing to the historically strong presence of the far right in politics. With the easing of COVID-related travel restrictions and the outbreak of conflicts, Austria is in the midst of a further increase in refugees.

The number of asylum seekers has increased “dynamically, dramatically”, explained Interior Minister Gerhard Karner, who pointed to the 2,500 special inquiries that had been carried out since May.

The initiative was originally designed to combat human trafficking and “asylum abuse”. As of 2021, authorities had located a total of 441 smugglers, while some 330 were arrested in 2020.

So far, 56,000 people have applied for asylum in Austria. The largest group are refugees from Afghanistan with 12,000, followed by Syrians with 10,000. Karner lamented the large number of Indians and Tunisians, amounting to 15,000, whose asylum claims were unlikely to be granted.

Politically, the situation is becoming increasingly explosive, as evidenced by Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in early October.

“As long as the EU does not intervene with effective measures, we must help each other. Therefore, Austria is doing everything to protect itself,” explained Nehammer.

This would imply future measures alongside Serbia and Hungary, “because if the Serbian and Hungarian borders are protected, our own border is also protected”, he noted.

Meanwhile, Austria’s far-right FPÖ has hounded the government.

“Apparently the Minister of the Interior is only now realizing the seriousness of the situation. But where are the conclusions and the measures? commented Michael Gruber, security spokesman for the FPÖ Upper Austria.

(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.de)

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