Number of asylum applications on the rise: Karner sends police to borders
Among other things, the Interior Minister wants to use video surveillance, drones and thermal imaging cameras to combat people smuggling.
The number of asylum applications has more than doubled this year compared to the previous year. 21,000 people have come to Austria by May. In the first half of 2021 there were around 10,500 – . This was announced by Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) at a press conference on Friday. Ukraine refugees are excluded from these figures, as they have a special displaced person status.
Police at borders
Karner suspects “the rotten, evil business” of traffickers as the trigger for the increase. He says these are exploiting the situation in Ukraine to “market” that Europe’s borders are open. In response, he announced that 55 police officers from all federal provinces would be sent to Burgenland, where they would carry out more intensive checks in the future. Migrants are to be registered more quickly and questioned first. In addition, video surveillance will be used more intensively: So far, there have been about 100 installations in Burgenland, and now 24 more are to be added.
The executive is also to become active abroad: For example, the government is sending around 50 officers to the border between Hungary and Serbia. In general, Karner wants to strengthen cooperation with Hungary and the Western Balkan states. The police are to use drones, heartbeat detectors and thermal imaging cameras to identify people on the run. Talks are currently underway with Slovakia to prevent smugglers from using an alternative route there.
From Karner’s point of view, an information campaign is also central: this should act as a measure “against the marketing of the brutal traffickers.” People who potentially want to come to Europe should be informed about the risks. Flyers in various languages have been produced for this purpose.
Furthermore, the staff dealing with asylum-related decisions is to be increased. This year, there have been 150 percent more decisions than in the same period in 2021, says Peter Webinger, head of the foreigners section in the Ministry of the Interior. As a result, the workload is also increasing. In cases where no grounds for asylum are expected to be recognized, faster procedures are already being used, which are usually completed within a few weeks.
Karner also wants to campaign at the European level for a “fight against smuggling and illegal migration.” He wants to raise the issue at an informal council of EU interior ministers in Prague, he said.
Source: Der Standard