Asylum pleas in Austria more than halved last year

 16 Jan 2017 - 0:04


Vienna: THE number of migrants applying for asylum in Austria more than halved in 2016 and did not breach a cap introduced early last year to limit new arrivals, the interior ministry said yesterday.
The country of 8.7 million was the last stop before Germany for many fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond at the beginning of the refugee crisis.
After receiving 90,000 requests for asylum in 2015, it introduced a cap on the number of asylum seekers it would accept in January 2016.
Last year, Austria received 42,073 requests for asylum, most of them from Afghans, Syrians and Iraqis, an interior ministry spokesman said, confirming an earlier report by APA news agency.
The ministry counted 36,030 applications as relevant for the cap of 37,500 because it strips out certain cases, including those it believes should be processed in other countries.
Austria’s step had provoked hefty criticism in Brussels and from human rights organisations, who said that such a limit broke the bloc’s rules and supported anti-immigrant attitudes.
But as the European Union has not been able to agree on a joint solution on how to deal with the large number of migrants, the introduction of a refugee cap has also become an issue in Germany.
In Austria, the further reduced cap of 35,000 applications this year has been heavily discussed in recent days.