Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has announced there were a total of 22,000 criminal complaints against migrants in 2016 – a significant increase since 2015.
The Interior Minister said the migrant criminal statistics had rapidly increased since 2014 causing a stir on social media. “In 2014, we had 10,400 asylum seekers who were suspected and reported, 2015 were 14,000, and 2016 were 22,000,” he said during an interview with Austrian television station ZiB 2. Mr. Sobotka then advocated a continuation of a limit on asylum applications per year, Kronen Zeitung reports. The report comes after Sobotka announced in December, having been probed by the anti-mass migration Freedom Party (FPÖ), that migrant sex attacks had gone up 133 per cent in 2016.
Mr. Sobotka also spoke on the subject of employment for asylum seekers and claimed that up to 90 per cent of them had no prospects of finding work in Austria at the present time and have ended up on government benefit payments. Jobs are an important part of the integration process, Sobotka argued, claiming that real integration can only work “if we can offer jobs to people”.
Sobotka’s party, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), have proposed that the current migrant limit of 37,500 be reduced to 17,000 going forward. When asked what the government would do with any asylum seekers who came after the number had been reached, Sobotka said that many would be housed in reception centres near the border or near airports.
Sobotka noted that Austria had been more successful in carrying out deportations than many other European Union (EU) member states saying that the country had become the “European repatriation champions”. He said that Austria had provided the most help to migrants who were being sent back to their home countries.
Germany, in particular, has had issues with deporting illegal migrants and failed asylum seekers to regions like North Africa and Afghanistan. The German government announced a new initiative to fly Afghan migrants to their home country but the first attempt to do so was met with large protests at Frankfurt airport.
He also said that many asylum seekers would likely be returned to Greece, but did not expect further huge waves of migrants coming through the Balkan route which has largely been shut down. However, thousands still use it per year and Hungary has warned that the numbers could increase unless countries stop encouraging migration.
The EU announced that many asylum seekers currently in Germany and elsewhere could be returned to Greece starting in March of this year. Charities like Amnesty International slammed the move saying it was, “outrageously hypocritical of the European Commission to insinuate that Greece alone is to blame for dire conditions, when the overcrowding and insecure climate on the Greek islands are for the most part caused by the EU-Turkey deal”.