The number of illegal migrants who have entered Austria this year has been revealed to be over 120,000 – far more than the supposed government limit of 37,500.
According to an inquiry by a member of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) the real figure for illegal border crossings into the central European state from January to July is 129,882. The figure is much larger than the government’s limit of 37,500, which was meant to trigger a shut down on all migration, reports Austrian paper Heute.
FPÖ MP Dagmar Belakowitsch-Jenewein requested the figures from the Austrian Federal Interior Ministry following government claims that the limit had not yet been reached.
However, the figures not only showed that the limit has been far exceeded, but that more than 37,500 illegal border crossings had been recorded in individual regions of the country. The largest number of border crossings were in Carinthia which lies on border with Slovenia and Italy.
A total of 74,418 migrants crossed into Austria from Italy or Slovenia. This week alone the Italian government received or rescued 15,000 migrants, amounting to ten per cent of the total for the year. Authorities fear that people smugglers will take advantage of the last few weeks of warm weather to traffic higher numbers before the onset of winter.
Close to Carinthia is the region of Styria, which shares a border with Slovenia and Hungary, two countries that were formerly destinations on the now-closed Balkan route. Styria saw 26,858 migrants cross the border so far this year. The remaining regions of Austria saw several thousand illegal crossings each except for the western region of Voralburg which only saw a few hundred.
The figures blow a huge hole in the government’s statement that less than 37,500 migrants had arrived in Austria and may have consequences for the emergency decree that was passed earlier in the year. The decree states that Austria would turn away all migrants once the 37,500 figure had been reached, and secure the border.
The FPÖ have campaigned for the border to be secured since the beginning of the migrant crisis and have long questioned the official numbers from the government.
In the coming re-run of the Austrian presidential election on October 2 FPÖ candidate Norbert Hofer has made securing the borders a primary goal and the message is resonating with voters as he leads his opponent, former Green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen, in the polls.