Austrian government moves to tighten rules on asylum
The government in Austria has moved to tighten the country’s asylum rules amid huge inflow of refugees mostly from the Middle East.
The EU state proposed a controversial bill on Tuesday to reassess refugee cases three years after asylum is first granted.
The refugees will be sent back home if their countries of origin are then deemed safe in three years’ time.
According to the bill, asylum seekers will only be allowed to be joined by family members after three years, an increase from the current one-year requirement.
The bill is due to go before parliament in December and is hoped to deter people from going to Austria.
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said the legislation is a “signal that asylum is something which is temporary.”
Rights groups severely criticized the bill, saying it would pose a great problem for asylum seekers on their way to integrating into the Austrian society.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the proposed rule regarding the refugees’ relatives “could keep families apart for many years, if not for ever.”
Nearly 400,000 asylum seekers are estimated to have arrived in Austria since September, most of whom travel onwards to Germany or Scandinavia.
Europe is facing record refugee arrivals. While a few European leaders support an open-door refugee policy, others are in favor of controlling the EU’s external borders, deporting more people and paying third countries to host the asylum seekers.
According to the latest figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), over 704,220 refugees have reached Europe’s shores so far this year while a total of 3,257 people have either died or gone missing in their perilous journey to the continent.