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2800 asylum seekers sent home from Austria

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2800 asylum seekers sent home from Austria
Asylum seekers arriving in Austria. EPA/GYORGY VARGA
13:13 CEST+02:00
Nearly 2,800 asylum seekers have been sent home by Austria in the first three months of the year as the country steps up its programme to encourage people to leave.

The figures compare to last year, when a total of 8,365 failed asylum seekers were deported to their homelands.

In recent months Austria has been encouraging asylum seekers go home voluntarily by providing a stipend, which is seen as a cheaper option than housing people in detention centres. The move is part of the country’s plan to return 50,000 asylum seekers back home by 2019.

An asylum seeker who leaves the country voluntarily within three months receive €500, those who leave within six months get €250, and after six months, they get €50.

Of the latest figures released this week, 890 were forcibly deported and 1,896 agreed to leave voluntarily. Among those persuaded to return were 623 Iraqis, 278 Iranians and 273 Afghans.

Head of the Federal Office for Asylum (BFA) Wolfgang Taucher says that some asylum seekers are feeling homesick and no longer want to live in limbo and despair in refugee centres in Europe.

“We were promised something different before we came”, is the sentiment often heard by Taucher from some asylum seekers living in Austrian refugee centres, according to the Kurier.

Taucher believes more people would be interested in returning but do not want to lose face by asking relatives back home to help pay for a return flight.

A new BFA project to encourage people to leave will be piloted in refugee centres, initially aimed at asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Nigeria and Morocco.

Working in partnership with NGOs Caritas and Human Rights Austria, the BFA plans to distribute information explaining that flights and medical care will be covered for those who want to return voluntarily.

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