According to a broadcast on Sunday, a drop of 70 percent had been registered between mid-December and the first few days of January. The reason for this is the end of visa-free travel for Indian and Tunisian citizens in Serbia.
“Smugglers deprived of business basis”
With the end of the visa-free regime in Serbia, the people smugglers were deprived of part of their “business basis,” it said. Indians and Tunisians paid between 2,000 and 5,000 euros to be towed from Serbia to Austria. According to the Ministry, there were more than 30,000 asylum applications in Austria from these two countries in the past year.
In addition to the end of the visa-free regime, the Ministry of the Interior refers to the intensive police controls, both on Austrian territory and in Hungary as part of Operation Fox. The most relevant route for Austria remains the eastern Mediterranean route, which leads to Austria via Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia, Romania and Hungary. Protecting the external borders is therefore essential.
Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) describes the end of visa-free travel as an “important measure to restrict organized crime’s scope for action”. “Taking action against the smuggling mafia means, above all, protecting human lives and fighting an inhuman business,” says Karner.
The Freedom Party, meanwhile, locate a “deceptive package”. Most of the 100,000 asylum applications by the end of November came from Afghans and Syrians, argued security spokesman Hannes Amesbauer in a broadcast. And when it comes to border controls, Karner tries to convince the Austrians that illegal immigrants are being prevented from entering the country. Rather, the ÖVP Minister of the Interior degraded the police officers to “tourist guides in our asylum system,” said Amesbauer. Any illegal immigrant who has applied for asylum in this country and is apprehended in another EU country can be sent back to Austria in accordance with the Dublin regulation.
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