The 6,165 irregular migrants who can’t be deported from Vienna
More than 20,000 asylum seekers are officially registered and receiving state benefits in the Austrian capital Vienna, but only two thirds of those are in the process of applying for or have been granted official refugee status, according to a report in the Kurier newspaper.
6,165 people are so-called "tolerated stay" migrants, whose removal is impossible either for practical reasons (such as a lack of documents or the country of origin’s refusal to accept them) or because their removal would contravene the Refugee Convention. According to the Kurier the Interior Ministry has confirmed this figure, but would not make an official comment on the situation.
Insiders told the newspaper that Vienna has a “magnet effect” on asylum seekers and irregular migrants - as the subsidies and social benefits given to refugees are more generous than in some other Austrian states. Asylum seekers may also be drawn to the capital because they have relatives or friends there, or expect a faster asylum procedure than in another federal state.
Of the around 6,000 persons who can’t be deported, 2,674 are actually rejected asylum seekers - mainly from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, but also from Somalia, Nigeria and Chechnya. These people do not have any identity documents or residency permits - either from their countries of origin or from Austria. They do have the option however of applying for a passport at their country’s embassy, and leaving Austria of their own accord.
“Every capital city has a ‘magnet effect'’’, refugee coordinator Peter Hacker told the Kurier newspaper. He said the important thing is to make sure that Vienna does not become home to “neglected ghettos of undocumented migrants”. He argues that it’s better that undocumented migrants should receive some form of social benefits which guarantee a basic standard of living, rather than have them slip through the net and wandering the city with no support - and possibly turning to crime.
He feels that Austria’s other federal states are partly to blame for the influx of undocumented migrants to Vienna, as they have cut the amount of social benefits they can receive.
As well as 2,674 failed asylum seekers, Vienna is also home to 3,491 asylum seekers who have been granted subsidiary protection, but do not qualify as refugees. They have been judged to face a real risk of suffering serious harm such as torture or the death penalty if they return to their country of origin, and so cannot be deported - even if they commit a crime in Austria. They have to apply each year for their residence permit to be extended on these grounds. They are also eligible to receive basic social security payments, and are allowed to work.
Around two-thirds of those who have been granted refugee status are men, and just over one third are women. Almost 25 percent of asylum seekers living in Austria are housed in Vienna.