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REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

Migrant crisis a ‘humanitarian disaster’

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz described Europe's refugee crisis as a "humanitarian disaster" on Monday and called for a new strategy to tackle the growing influx.

Migrant crisis a 'humanitarian disaster'
Sebastian Kurz in Macedonia. Photo: APA/EPA

Visiting the frontier between Greece and Macedonia, a new flashpoint in the crisis, Kurz also deplored the “lack of checks on migrants” within the European Union.

“It's a humanitarian disaster, a disaster for the European Union as a whole, and there is a pressing need for us to focus on the situation in the western Balkans,” he told reporters.

“We have to find a new strategy to support Greece and the western Balkan countries.”

The EU is grappling with an unprecedented influx of people fleeing war, repression and poverty in what the bloc has described as its worst refugee crisis in 50 years.

Nearly 340,000 migrants have arrived in the EU in the first seven months of this year, according to the bloc's Frontex border agency.

Greece has recorded 160,000 since the start of the year, mainly coming in via Turkey.

More than 42,000 have gone through Macedonia since mid-June to try to enter the European Union, particularly the countries of the passport-free Schengen area.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is travelling to Vienna on Thursday, where she will meet with leaders of Balkan states including Albania and Kosovo to find out why “so many thousands of people are coming from these countries”, according to her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

France and Germany are both urging Brussels to compile a list of countries whose nationals would not be considered asylum-seekers except in exceptional personal circumstances.

France's and Germany's leaders will also try to help fast-track the setting up of reception centres in overwhelmed Greece and Italy – two countries that have borne the brunt of the crisis – to help identify asylum-seekers and illegal migrants.

ECONOMY

Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

International business owners in Vienna bring in billions of euros in revenue and taxes each year, according to a recent survey by the Chamber of Commerce.

Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna's economy

New figures show that Vienna’s international entrepreneurs do more than simply boost diversity in Austria’s capital city – they also significantly contribute to the local economy.

The Wirtschaftskammer (Chamber of Commerce) has revealed that business owners in Vienna with a migration background generate € 8.3 billion in revenue and create around 45,500 jobs.

Plus, these companies pay around € 3.7 billion every year in taxes and duties, reports ORF.

READ MORE: Austrian presidential elections: Why 1.4 million people can’t vote

Walter Ruck, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, said: “Companies with a migrant background not only enrich the diversity of the corporate landscape in Vienna, they are also an economic factor.”

Ruck added that more than 200 international companies move to the capital each year and said the diversity is helping Vienna to financially recover from the pandemic. 

The Chamber of Commerce considers a business owner to have a migration background if they were not born in Austria and/or they have a non-Austrian nationality.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on working overtime in Austria?

According to ORF, there are 34,000 entrepreneurs in Vienna with a migration background and 7,400 of those business owners have Austrian citizenship.

Additionally, 4,500 business owners have Slovakian nationality, 3,800 are from Romania and 2,600 have German citizenship.

The most popular business sector for people in Vienna with a migration background is retail, followed by real estate and technical services.

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