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REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

Emergency migrant measures ‘phased out’

Up to 20,000 refugees crossed the border from Hungary into Austria over the weekend after an agreement with Austria and Hungary to relax asylum rules. However, Austria's Chancellor Werner Faymann has said the emergency measures will now be phased out.

Emergency migrant measures 'phased out'
Refugee children with donated soap bubbles at Vienna's Westbahnhof. Photo: Caritas

He said they would move step by step “towards normality”, after speaking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sunday.

Faymann added that “a measure of this type cannot be a solution” and that Austria would slowly reintroduce random border checks.

Hungary had previously blocked refugees from travelling to Western Europe, but on Friday announced it would be shuttling people to the Austrian border.

On Sunday, a group of cars driven by German and Austrian activists travelled to the Hungarian border to pick up refugees and distribute food and blankets.

The refugees had travelled north through the Balkans before arriving at Hungary's southern border, and on to Austria and Germany. The majority are fleeing the civil war in Syria.

Just over 100 people claimed asylum in Austria over the weekend, with more than 18,000 travelling on to Germany to claim asylum there. The refugees are afraid that if they claim asylum in Austria they could be sent back to Hungary under the Dublin III rule – whereas Germany has said it will accept asylum applications from Syrian refugees, regardless of which EU country they first arrived in.

The new arrivals in Austria have been met at the main railway stations – Westbahnhof and Hauptbahnhof – by a huge army of charity workers and volunteers who are handing out food, water, hygiene supplies and providing medical treatment.

Germany is expecting a record 800,000 new asylum seekers this year, four times the number in 2014.

The UN's refugee chief has said the crisis could be “manageable” if European countries all pulled their weight and agreed on a common approach.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to present a plan on Wednesday to relocate 120,000 refugees from overstretched Italy, Greece and Hungary.

Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper said the plan would see Germany accepting 31,000, followed by France with 24,000 and Spain with almost 15,000. Austria has said it will take an extra 3,640 refugees.

EU interior ministers are meeting on September 14th, and Austria is among those pushing for a summit to resolve the migrant crisis to be held swiftly afterwards.

 

 

Follow the tweets from volunteers at Austria's main train stations here: http://www.refugees.at/#bahnhof

 

IMMIGRATION

MAP: Who are the foreigners in Austria?

Austria's recent Migration & Integration report paints a detailed picture of who are the immigrants in the country, where they come from, the languages they speak at home and more.

MAP: Who are the foreigners in Austria?

More than a quarter of Austria’s population has a “migration background”, which, according to the statistics institute Statistik Austria, means that they have parents who both were born abroad, regardless of their own nationality or place of birth.

Though migration is a controversial topic for some, Statistik Austria made it clear that if not for it, the country would simply stop growing.

“Austria’s population is growing solely due to immigration. Without it, according to the population forecast, the number of inhabitants would fall back to the level of the 1950s in the long term”, says Statistik Austria’s director general Tobias Thomas.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: One in four Austrian residents now of foreign origin

Who are the foreigners in Austria?

Not every person with a migration background is considered a foreigner, though. Many of them have parents who were born abroad but naturalised Austrians before having children, or they themselves became Austrian citizens later on.

This is why despite 25.4 percent of the population having a “migration background”, the number of people with foreign nationalities is slightly lower at 17.7 percent.

So, who are these people? 

German is still the most common nationality among foreigners in Austria (218,347 people). But much had changed since 2015 (when there were 170,475 Germans).

The number of Romanians has almost doubled (from 73,374 to 140,454), bringing them to the second-largest foreigner community in Austria, behind German citizens.

In 2015, Turkish was the second-largest foreign nationality in Austria (there were 115,433), but they are now the fourth (with 117,944 people), behind German, Romanian, and Serbians (121,643).

They are helping Austria get younger

In Austria, most people without a migration background (36.2 percent) are between 40 to 64 years old. The share is also quite large among those with 65 or more years, reaching 21.8 percent.

When it comes to people with a migration background, most are between 40 to 64 years old (34.4 percent), followed closely by the 20 to 39-year-olds (33.5 percent), and then the children and adolescents until 19 years of age (22 percent). Only 10.2 percent of the people with a migration background are older than 65.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Regarding nationalities, Austrians have an average age of 44.8, followed by Germans, who average 41.1. The youngest populations are the Afghani living in Austria (24.9 years old on average) and the Syrians (26.3).

Immigration helps keep the Austrian population younger. (Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash)

Language and education

People with a migration background living in Austria have a different educational profile than the population without a migration background, according to the Statistik Austria data.

They are more often represented in the lowest and highest educational segments and less often in the middle-skilled segment than the population without a migration background.

However, the educational level of immigrants is improving over time, on the one hand, due to increasing internal migration, also of higher educated people within the EU. On the other hand, as a result of the selective immigration policy toward third-country nationals by the Red-White-Red Card, the institution said.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

In 2021, 19.4 percent of the Austrian population had higher education, such as a university degree, and 10.9 percent had only mandatory primary schooling. Regarding foreigners, 29 percent had university-level education and 25.1 percent had completed only their primary school years.

When it comes to children and the language they speak, German was the first language of about 72 percent of the four and 5-year-old children in elementary educational institutions in Austria.

READ ALSO: Austria ranked world’s ‘second least friendly country’

With just under six percent each, Turkish and Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BKS) were the most common non-German first languages. Around two percent each spoke Romanian, Arabic or Albanian, followed by Hungarian (one percent).

Less than one percent each for Persian, Polish, Slovakian, English, Russian and Kurdish, respectively, as the first languages. Languages other than those mentioned were spoken by slightly more than five percent.

And who is naturalising Austrian?

Not all foreigners become Austrian, even if they have been in the country for decades. One of the reasons is that the process is expensive, but also because it requires applicants to give up their previous citizenship – something many are unwilling to do.

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around citizenship?

According to the report, in 2021, most foreign citizens who naturalised Austrian were from Turkey originally (1,100), followed by Bosnia (921), Serbia (782), Afghanistan (545), and Syria (543).

More than one-third of the people naturalising Austrian last year were already born in Austria, and most of the naturalisations were of young people between 20 and 40 years old.

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