Austria sets limits for asylum seekers

Vienna, Feb 18 (IANS) Austrian Minister of the Interior Johanna Mikl-Leitner on Wednesday said the country will only be accepting a maximum of 80 asylum applications per day at its southern border crossings from Friday onwards.

The limit is to remain in place until further notice.

The average number of asylum applications had previously been about 200 per day. Though as the given limit will only count at the border crossings, further applications that may still be made elsewhere in the country could take the daily total higher, Xinhua reported.

In addition, a maximum of 3,200 people who “wish to seek international protection in a neighbouring country”, presumed largely to be Germany, will be allowed to enter Austrian territory each day.

Should either of the two limits be reached border crossings for asylum seekers will be temporarily stopped.

Mikl-Leitner did not rule out that a backlog of people wishing to enter the country could build up in neighbouring Slovenia, and defended the limits saying Austria is one of the most burdened EU member states as a result of the crisis.

She added that “security, order, and quality of life for our citizens in Austria” must be maintained, especially where no joint European solution to the crisis currently exists.

In addition, the interior ministry does not anticipate any issues with either Germany or Slovenia to arise from the new limits. Mikl-Leitner said the cooperation with Slovenia in particular has up to now been “exemplary”.

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