Austria to Cap Asylum Claims to Tackle Migrant InflowEU | January 20, 2016, Wednesday // 20:08| views
Austrian Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner (L) and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann during a news conference after a government meeting to discuss the refugee problem in Vienna, Austria, on 20 January 2016. Photo EPA/BGNES
Austria has decided to cap the number of refugees it wants to accept to 37,500 this year and a total of 127,500 through 2019.
The country accepted 90,000 claims last year - more than 1% of its population.
“We can't take in all asylum seekers in Austria," Chancellor Werner Faymann said on Wednesday after a meeting of top federal and state government officials in Vienna, according to international newswires.
The four-year cap of 127,500 refugees represents 1.5% of Austria's population of 8.5 million and will be implemented by gradually decreasing the number of accepted asylum applications. In a breakdown, the plan means 37,500 asylum seekers this year, 35,000 in 2017, 30,000 in 2018 and 25,000 in 2019.
Austria has become a major transit country for migrants seeking to claim asylum in Germany.
Non-EU Serbia, which lies on the so called Balkan routre used by asylum seekers to reach western Europe, responded to Austria’s decision by saying it would would close its border with Macedonia to refugees not seeking asylum in Austria or Germany.
Serbia’s Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin was quoted as saying that as of Wednesday migrants would be unable to continue their travel “if they have not expressed intention to seek asylum on the territory of Austria or Germany."
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