Just a few days ago, a dramatic incident occurred on the Hungarian-Austrian border in Burgenland. The police were informed by residents of Neckenmarkt that dozens of people were getting out of a small truck on a dirt road. When officers arrive, the vehicle is empty. It has bullet holes. Almost at the same time came the report from Hungary that the authorities there shot at a car that was speeding towards officials at the border, but that was not able to prevent it from driving to Austria. More than 30 people are picked up in the area around the empty car, and the alleged tout has fled. Til today.
Since the summer, the number of people who have entered the country illegally has increased significantly. Most of them are refugees, many apply for asylum after being caught. According to preliminary data, the Federal Criminal Police Office apprehended more than 40,000 people who had crossed the national borders, some with the help of people smugglers.
Many of those apprehended appear with a delay in the asylum statistics. The latest figures from the Ministry of the Interior come from November, when 5,830 people applied for asylum. In total, there were 34,118 such applications for international protection in the first eleven months, the majority of which occurred in the second half of the year. With the December figures available soon, 2021 is likely to be one of the years with the highest number of applications in the past two decades.
Stranded in Southeastern Europe
One reason for the significant increase is the devastating situation of the refugees in the regions of the Western Balkans, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. “A lot of people didn’t want to endure the poor care any longer,” says Gerald Tatzgern, a smuggling expert at the Federal Criminal Police Office. These are people who have often been in south-eastern Europe for a long time and are stranded there.
By far the most applications were submitted by Syrians (14,177) ahead of people from Afghanistan (6,981), followed by applications from people from Morocco (1,674), Somalia (1,523) and Pakistan (1,219). By the end of November, 10,470 people had received asylum in Austria, and subsidiary protection had been granted in 3,600 cases. Around 3,000 people received a residence permit for humanitarian reasons last year.
According to Tatzgern, the situation is currently volatile: “If Turkey remains stable, the situation in Iran will change, but not in Pakistan. A change (in migration flows, note) is not to be expected for that long.” The situation is particularly unpredictable in Afghanistan, which a large part of the population would want to leave.
In its “Risk picture 2030”, the armed forces identified migration as a “hybrid threat” if, as is currently the case in Belarus, it is used as an “instrument of foreign policy, pressure or even a means of destabilization”.(sir/what)