• Austria's news in English
Asylum applications continue to fall in Austria
UNHCR/Archilleas Zavallis

Asylum applications continue to fall in Austria

The Local · 7 Jul 2016, 11:09

Published: 07 Jul 2016 11:09 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In May 2016 a total of 3,795 asylum applications were received in Austria, compared to the 6,408 received in the same month in 2015.

The drop is largely attributed to the closure of the so-called Balkan route into central Europe for migrants and asylum seekers and stricter controls at the borders with Hungary and Italy.

The figures from the Interior Ministry follow data released in June by the EU that showed the number of asylum applications in Austria in the first three months had dropped by 55% compared the last quarter of 2015.

Although Austria is seeing fewer asylum applications, it still has one of the highest number of applicants per population in Europe, second only to Germany, and many asylum seekers and migrants are still trying to make their way to Europe via Italy. 

In the first five months of 2016, around 46,000 arrived in Italy on boats on the Mediterranean, with shipwrecks and capsizings killing at least 880 people.

Emergency measures

Austria set an upper limit of 37,500 on the number of asylum applications it is prepared to accept in 2016.

So far the country has received 20,003 asylum applications this year, plus a further 6,300 applications from people who Austria wants to return to the first EU country they entered under the Dublin Regulation.

A new asylum law that allows the Austrian government to implement special measures on migration in ‘emergency’ situations was passed by the parliament a few months ago.

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern (SPÖ) has previously said the government would introduce the measures - which would allow police to turn away nearly all asylum seekers at the border - when the upper limit on asylum seekers is reached.

Others have called the measures to be introduced sooner. “You must implement the emergency conditions before the upper limit of 37,500 is reached,” Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka from the conservative ÖVP party said this week.

Despite significantly lower numbers of asylum applications compared to the previous year, the Interior Ministry has been building reception centres and facilities in areas that saw large numbers of arrivals last summer.

A registration centre is being set up in Nickelsdorf, on the border between Austria and Hungary, and plans for fences in the municipalities of Moschendorf, Heiligenkreuz and Heiligenbrunn are also being put in place.

“We have learnt from the previous year and improved the processes in the background,” a spokesperson from the Burgenland provincial police told the Kurier.

Austria to discuss borders with Hungary

Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil (SPÖ) and Sobotka are due to travel to Hungary next week to try to finalise negotiations over border security at the border between Hungarian and Serbian.

Yesterday Sobotka summoned the Hungarian Ambassador to the Interior Ministry after Hungary started controlling people arriving to their country from Austria, in response to Austria's strengthening of traffic controls that caused two hour traffic delays in both countries.

Story continues below…

The issue will be discussed at the meeting this week where Austria also hope to persuade Hungary to begin taking back asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation.

Since the regulation broke down last summer, Hungary has argued they should not be expected to accept asylum seekers returned from central Europe.

“If Hungary takes back refugees, it will give us some breathing space,” said Doskozil.

EU meet to discuss migration

Meanwhile, EU policy makers are gathering in Slovakia today to discuss the implementation of plans to strengthen the policing of EU’s external borders.

They are also due to discuss recent proposals from the European Commission to change the EU’s migration policy, providing more financial support to northern African countries and improving access to visas for migrants.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

Austrian policeman sentenced over 'Heil Hitler' salute
Photo: Flickr

A policeman in Austria was sentenced on Thursday for shouting "Heil Hitler" at a driver during a traffic check at the Hungarian border in April.

Scary clown craze endangers crucial work of clown 'doctors'
Photo: Bojan Tavcar

Within the last couple weeks, disturbing events involving masked individuals has caught public attention in Austria.

Chimney sweep rescues lost mushroom picker
Photo: James Lindsey/Wikimedia

A 76-year-old Austrian man who went out mushroom picking almost froze to death after getting lost and spending the night in the forest.

Refugees sold into forced prostitution
File photo: UNHCR

Female refugees are being sold into forced prostitution in Austria, a police investigation into human trafficking has found.

Driverless bus takes a spin around Salzburg's old town
The Arma driverless shuttle bus. Photo: Navya

A driverless minibus has made a test journey in the city of Salzburg.

No jail time for asylum seeker who dumped baby in road
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A man who grabbed his own child and dumped her in the middle of a busy road has been given a nine-month suspended sentence.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available