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Austria sees huge drop in asylum seekers

Asylum applications have plummeted in Austria reflecting the country's willingness to tackle the immigration problem head-on.

Published: November 18, 2017, 8:44 am

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    It was announced yesterday that applications have dropped by 43.3 percent in Austria, according to the Interior Ministry.

    The number of claims for asylum is down to 21 130 so far this year, some 16 000 less than the 37 256 asylum seekers which had applied during the same period in 2016.

    Not only are the number of applications down, but the number of deportations has risen dramatically too, up from 3 3 841 last year to 5 788 this year so far.

    According to the Interior Ministry, deportations increased in the first three quarters to 50.7 percent. Voluntary departures declined by 16 percent, dropping from 4 868 to 4 089.

    Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Sobotka, a member of Kurz’ party, was above all satisfied with the development of deportations. “Every case of asylum in Austria is examined individually, at several instances and independently, so it is clear that people without a right to stay have to leave our country, and consequently we will continue to force them out” Sobotka said on Wednesday.

    The upper limit of 35 000 asylum applicants laid down by the Federal Government should thus be significantly undercut this year, the Ministry noted.

    The news comes after an election campaign focusing om immigration. Austria’s new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, as well as the party he is expected to enter into coalition with, the Freedom Party, had both vowed to cut mass immigration.

    The two parties likely to form the next federal coalition government have Friday revealed their plans to toughen asylum laws.

    Sebastian Kurz and Heinz-Christian Strache, spoke at a media briefing to explain their proposals that include a shift away from individual housing for asylum seekers and reducing the overall length of time for asylum application procedures.

    In addition, cash handouts will be reduced, and non-cash benefits will rather be made available. Approved asylum cases will also no longer be eligible for citizenship after six years, but will instead have to wait 10 years like other migrants.

    Both parties have vowed to increase the rate of deportations, particularly for asylum seekers who commit crimes on Austrian soil.

    As FWM had reported earlier, Austria threatened to close its borders with Italy, with the Defence Minister saying the military would be “indispensable” if the flow of migrants from Italy continued.

    Also, the Austrian army on 07 December 2015 began constructing a fence along the border with Slovenia, which was designed to control thousands of migrants.

    The fence is 2.2 metres high and runs for some 4 kilometres left and right of the border crossing at the town of Spielfeld, police spokesman Leo Josefus said at the time.

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