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Austria blames Indians and North Africans for asylum wave

Interior minister says number of asylum claims have surged but most have little hope of success

Austria on Monday blamed migrants from India and North Africa for fuelling a migration wave by filing hopeless asylum claims.

Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said 100 Tunisians per day were being intercepted at the border at the height of the surge last month.

He said 15,000 Indians and 11,400 Tunisians had sought asylum between January and October this year, compared to 611 and 328 last year.

Austria regards India and Tunisiaas safe countries whose citizens are unlikely to be eligible for asylum.

“We have seen a whole new phenomenon of asylum applications from people who have practically no chance of asylum,” Mr Karner said.

He said Morocco was another country where Austria had launched “counter-marketing” campaigns urging people not to come.

Landlocked Austria says many of the migrants enter from Hungary after arriving in Europe in nearby Serbia.

Mr Karner said numbers had come down after EU candidate Serbia agreed to scrap visa-free travel for Indians and Tunisians.

“In order that we can help those who truly need it, we have to prevent our system becoming overburdened,” Mr Karner said.

“At the moment it is, because so many are entering this system for economic reasons.”

Mr Karner was speaking at a press conference marking a year since Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s government took office.

He urged the EU to toughen its rules so that people with criminal records could be stripped of asylum more easily.

Austria’s Interior Ministry said about 60,000 people were in limbo after having their asylum applications denied.

Germany similarly sounded the alarm over illegal migration last month, when it extended checks on its own border with Austria.

It also succeeded in persuading Austria and the Czech Republic to order checks on their borders with Slovakia.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock signed a pact with India on Monday to make deportations easier for people without legal status.

The agreement signed during a visit to New Delhi is also meant to encourage qualified Indians to move to Germany legally.

It comes as German businesses face a severe labour shortage in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.



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