Austria’s interior minister refuses migrant redistribution
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) has confirmed Austria's refusal to redistribute migrants to the EU member states. Looking at the situation on the Greek islands, Nehammer spoke out against it at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Zagreb.
Published: January 25, 2020, 11:43 am
According to the AFP news agency, Nehammer said: “More and more people are coming. More and more are making their way across the Mediterranean and more and more people are drowning. We have to keep our line very consistently.”
This line must be “to fight the fight against illegal migration and against smuggling”. It was wrong “that people should be brought from Greece to the mainland, because this will lead to the organised crime of trafficking that will bring more people to the islands,” said Nehammer. Most of the migrants are economic refugees anyway, he added. Sea rescue should not mean a ticket to Europe.
Criticism against the Austrian position came from the German Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU). He appealed to “European solidarity” in the distribution of migrants. If this does not succeed, the process will be disorderly, “with all the risks that arise if you lose control – we have all experienced this, including the Austrians”.
Nehammer had previously said that Austria would withdraw from the EU resettlement programme. “We will report to the EU Commission that we are not taking people,” said Nehammer via a spokeswoman. According to the EU Commission, Austria agreed to accept 229 migrants last June.
“As a small country, Austria, we are already making a disproportionately large contribution,” Nehammer said to justify the attitude of his government. Through the resettlement programme, Brussels plans to bring 30 000 people out of crisis-hit countries and resettle them in Europe.
For each person admitted, a country receives 10 000 euros from the Commission. In addition, at the beginning of the week, Nehammer announced “borderline” asylum centers in the east and south of the Alpine Republic.
Unlike Austria, Germany announced that it would again accept immigrants in 2020 through the resettlement program.
The German Federal Government had guaranteed the admission of 10 200 migrants for 2018 and 2019. There are already 5 500 in 2020.
Meanwhile, the migrant aid organisations SOS Méditerranée and Doctors Without Borders again picked up almost 100 migrants off the coast of Libya on Friday night. As the organisations announced on the short message service Twitter, the 92 people included mothers with their small children and pregnant women.
They were brought to the Ocean Viking from a crowded inflatable boat off the Libyan coast. Just a few days ago, the ship, which is operated jointly by the two aid organisations, had taken in almost 40 immigrants and brought them to the Sicilian city of Pozzallo. Where the ship is heading to is still unclear.
As the Italian daily Il Giornale reported, the number of migrants who came to Italy via the Mediterranean rose sharply in the first weeks of this year. From 1 to 23 January 2020, 774 migrants were registered. In the same period in 2019, the authorities counted 155 people.
In the past few months, Germany had also taken in hundreds of Mediterranean migrants. Federal Interior Minister Seehofer (CSU) had pledged last year to bring such immigrants directly from Italy to Germany.
According to data from the German Ministry of the Interior, according to the dpa news agency, the Federal Government brought 401 asylum seekers to Germany who came to Europe via the central Mediterranean route. Berlin has agreed to admit another 249 people in Italy and Malta, but has not yet done so.
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