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REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

Massive rally shows support for refugees

A rally in support of migrants fleeing the Syrian conflict and other hardships drew tens of thousands to Vienna on Saturday, organisers and police said.

Massive rally shows support for refugees
Photo: ATV Video

Austria has been a key transit point for many refugees reaching eastern Europe, and organisers said their bid to show public solidarity drew some 60,000 into the capital's streets.

Police put the total nearer 20,000 as a good-natured throng converged in front of the railway station from where many of the refugees have continued their odyssey through to neighbouring Germany.

Charitable groups and NGOs called the rally with the slogan “Welcome Refugees!”

“All refugees are welcome, whether their flight be due to war, persecution or other causes,” a spokesman said as the marchers wound their way down the central Mariahilferstrasse thoroughfare before coming to a halt outside parliament.

“It is important to show solidarity and welcome refugees and show that in Austria we have a liberal and welcoming culture,” one marcher who gave his name as Georg told AFP.

CHECK OUT THE GALLERY FROM SATURDAY

Mariahilferstrasse was decked out with some 2,000 portraits of migrants in order to “put a face to the figures” of the thousands who have streamed in over recent months after transiting through neighbouring states.

Despite Saturday's show of support the influx has caused some concern in Austria, whose far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) has drawn nearly level with the ruling Social Democrats in Vienna ahead of October 11 elections in the capital city state, according to a recent poll.

Saturday evening was to see further festivities in the form of “solidarity concerts”, capped with a speech by President Heinz Fischer.

Thousands of Austrians have mobilised to offer help with logistics as the refugees have flooded in.

Last month, almost 170,000 people entered Austria, most of whom travelled on to Germany and beyond.

But the 8.5 million-strong Alpine country still expects a record 80,000 asylum requests this year and is currently processing 53,000 requests.

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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