Migrants who find Europe not to be the land of milk and honey they expected will be able to receive repatriation assistance from the Austrian government from this year.
The development is part of a package of changes which the government in Vienna hopes will help them hit a new target of 50,00 migrants leaving the country by 2019.
While the announcment has been reported sensationally as 50,000 deportations, it seems many of the newly arrived migrants will go voluntarily, with a bumper load of government pocket money to see them on their way. The full €500 will only be available if the migrant makes the decision to go quickly, and before the government rules on their asylum case. The government will also place adverts in media in migrant-origin countires and on social media in migrant languages telling them to stay at home, reports Kronen Zeitung.
The rising pace of removals is a step-change for Austria, but not an entirely new policy.
Interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said Austria already had one of the highest levels for deportations in Europe, but “we will further increase out success rate”. Austria deported 8,365 in 2015, a number that will rise to 12,500 in 2016 to meet the obligations by the plan.
Re-assessing the global security picture, Austria will also be expanding their list of safe countries to which they can easily send back migrants, and from where no asylum applications will now be accepted. Inidividuals from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Georgia, Mongolai and Ghana, will from now on have to seek asylum elsewhere, or go home — Austria will not accept their claims.
The agreement on the new plan has been reached between the interior ministry, foreign ministry, and defence ministry who will be flying many migrants home in military aircraft. There are also questions being raised over the future involvement of the Austrian army in border patrols, reports OE24, which quotes minister Hanspeter Doskozil who raises the prospect not only of putting soldiers on the borders, but of raising citizens militias to patrol.
On the urgent need to raise volunteer groups to patrol the border to make up for the over-stretched army, Mr. said: “We now need to prepare as soon as possible. Time is running out”.
Austria is not the first country to offer repatriation assistance to unwanted migrants. It was Conservative party policy in the United Kingdom in the 1970s, and Norway presently offers a similar programme. Migrants who find the frozen north of Europe to be not to their taste can apply for a government grant to get them home again. Worth $10,000 per family, plus free plane tickets, the Norwegian government calculates paying migrants to go away is cheaper in the long run than keeping them on benefits and other social support packages.
Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter: Follow @Oliver_Lane or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org