Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner has announced the Austrian home office will engage in a coordinated campaign to try and discourage would-be migrants.
The programme consists of advertisements in Afghanistan that tell locals Austria has clamped down on migration and they will not be welcomed with open arms, reports Die Presse.
Afghanistan may seem like a strange choice for the advertisements which will be plastered across buses, television and the internet, but Afghanis are emerging as the highest population among newly arriving migrants in Austria. 25,500 Afghani migrants have applied for asylum in the small alpine nation last year with only 189 of them deciding to return home voluntarily. Many in Afghanistan could be considered legtimate candidates for asylum by European Union rules. The danger of harm or even death for minorities like Christians, homosexuals and others is a very real possibility. 45 percent of the migrants from the country, which has seen perpetual war-like conditions since 2002, were granted asylum in Austria due to those factors.
Tuesday afternoon Milk-Leitner gave a presentation to media on the objectives of the campaign. She said the goal is to inform those who see the generous benefits of Germany and the promises of German chancellor Angela Merkel that Austria is not Germany. She said that Austria has now become one of the strictest countries for granting asylum in Europe and that she says it is her duty to inform Afghans that this new policy is only a “matter of fairness.”
TV is the most important part of the programme because many in Afghanistan cannot read or do not have access to internet giving posters and internet posts only a limited audience. Also included are posts on social media by those who made the journey and decided to come back. They relate their experiences and disappointment with their journey since many of them are often promised the stars by people smugglers who collect large fees to smuggle them in the European Union. The reality for many is much different from what the smugglers tell them.
Physical ads like billboards and newspapers are being distributed in the five largest cities in the country and the capital Kabul will be the only city to have slogans on public transport like the sides of buses.
— migration_österreich (@Migration_Oe) March 1, 2016
Perhaps the most incredible thing about this so called “info offensive” is the total cost of the entire campaign has so far amounted to only 10,000 euros. This costs is related mostly because of the extremely cheap advertising in Afghanistan in comparison with western countries. Mikl-Leitner announced that in the coming weeks there will also be similar campaigns launched in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria which have been the source of many migrants who have committed crimes like harassing young girls at train stations like in the city of Linz. The Interior Ministry also said there is a precedence for these programs noting that a similar info blitz was carried out in the Balkan countries and led to a huge decline in migrants from the area.