The Austrian government’s policy of giving cash to migrants who chose to leave Austria is failing as the migrants would rather stay in Europe.
The Austrian government has had little success with its programme to help encourage migrants to return to their home countries.
The programme, which allocates €500 to each migrant who decides within the first three months that they want to return to their homelands, has been broadly ignored by the so-called asylum seekers who have come into the alpine nation since the start of the migrant crisis. The migrants themselves say that the sum is no motivation to return to what are often failed states, reports The Local.
The resettlement incentive programme has been active since April of this year and offers migrants from countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Nigeria €500 to return to their countries within three months of claiming asylum. After three months the cash is reduced to €250 and after six months the migrants are eligible for only €50.
The programme is similar to one enacted by the German government to help voluntarily repatriate migrants. The German programme allocates more cash and some migrants can claim up to €700 per person.
While both programmes are designed to reduce the costs of forced deportations, there is little sign of them being effective. Germany alone has already spent over ten million euros forcibly deporting migrants, some of which are criminals.
In Austria only 3,195 migrants have so far left the country voluntarily to return to their homelands, but the government has been tight lipped on how many accepted the cash offer to do so. The total number of migrants coming into Austria last year was over 68,000 and some experts warn that the country could turn into a “waiting zone” accommodating up to half a million migrants.
The reason many migrants don’t want to leave is because they would be returning to failed states in the cases of places like Iraq and Syria. One Iraqi migrant told Austrian media: “I wanted to live in peace and security”, and acknowledged the fears of Austrians over migrants saying: “The people here do not want the refugees. We have all felt it.”
Migrant rights organisation Verein Menschenrechte Österreich (Human Rights Society Austria) says that of all of their 300 plus clients less than two dozen have actually accepted the cash. “The money is not a motivation for returning,” said Günter Ecker, the head of the group. “Life perspective is the most important thing. How many years are left until the case is decided, can they bring over their family, and is it easier to make ends meet here than back home,” he added.
While some Syrians and Afghans have left Europe to go home, the majority of migrants are on course to stay. The costs of integration for countries like Austria and Germany is said to be in the billions of euros, and while head of the Austrian Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum Wolfgang Taucher has said that “voluntary returns are an absolute first priority”, many may never go home.