Trafficker report: Corona slows down illegal entry

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The Corona crisis has temporarily reduced the number of illegal immigrants. Since July, however, their number has been rising again, said Minister of the Interior Karl Nehammer on the occasion of the publication of the 2019 Management Report on Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings. Currently, there is a higher migration pressure towards Austria. Nehammer wants to use drones in particular to monitor the borders.

While in July and August 2019 there were 3,590 apprehensions, this year there were 4,390, an increase of more than 20 percent. “We will therefore increasingly rely on the use of drones to monitor our borders”, the Minister confirmed. A pilot project with more than 40 drones is underway.

In general, the number of apprehensions has steadily decreased since the large influx of refugees in 2015. In 2019 as a whole, 19,274 people were apprehended, a decrease of nine percent compared to 2018. Most people were apprehended in the Tyrolean district of Kufstein (1,455), followed by the district of Innsbruck/Land (1,270 apprehensions), the Lower Austrian district of Bruck a.d. Leitha with 1,001 incidents and Salzburg with 957 apprehensions.

“The fields of human trafficking and smuggling pose great challenges for us. Not only do criminals enrich themselves from the plight of others, hundreds of people are also injured every year,” said Nehammer. Smuggling refers to the support – usually at a high price – for illegal entry, trafficking means exploitation comparable to slavery.

According to the report, the traffickers are mainly men from Syria, Austria, Turkey, Serbia and Afghanistan. The sexes came mainly from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. 45 percent were 19 to 30 years old, the group of 15 to 18-year-olds was the second most frequently represented with 26 percent. Children and young people up to 14 years of age made up eight percent. The main route ran through the Western Balkans. The main countries of transit to Austria for illegal migrants are Italy and Hungary.

Despite all the corona measures at the borders, smuggling is “running at full speed” according to the Ministry of the Interior. The dangers for migrants are now once again extremely high: Even after the Parndorf catastrophe in Burgenland, where the bodies of 71 suffocated refugees were discovered in August 2015 in a refrigerated truck, such illegal transports of people are still taking place. Recently, one of them was discovered near Bruck a.d. Leitha in Lower Austria.

In addition, the police identified 62 suspected human traffickers and 66 of their victims as well as 43 suspects of cross-border prostitution and 53 victims. Even minors – twelve girls and two boys under 14 – were among them. Most of the victims came from Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.

In addition to prostitution and begging, labor exploitation plays a role here – the illegal production of dumplings was newly observed in 2019: Chinese nationals produced “quantities of up to 10,000 pieces in Viennese apartments and delivered them packaged to Chinese restaurants and supermarkets. The investigations are proving to be extremely difficult due to the extensive scope of the case, and both human trafficking and smuggling are being investigated,” it was said.

— Hector Pascua, with reports from APA, Picture: stockilyapp.com

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