Austrian FM suggests Australia model of detaining migrants on islands

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz proposed to tackle migrant inflow to the EU by keeping migrants on islands.

Kurz suggested keeping migrants on islands to prevent them from reaching mainland Europe, in an interview published Saturday.

“It is no coincidence that immigrants to the US first came to the Ellis Island near New York. US authorities then decided who should be allowed to the mainland. Such island model could also work for Europe,” Kurz told the daily newspaper Die Presse.

The minister speculated that people stranded on Greek islands like Lesbos without a chance of getting asylum status would be more willing to return home than those who had already moved in an apartment in Berlin or Vienna.

“The EU should take parts of the Australian model as an example,” Kurz said. “The Australian model cannot be entirely copied, but the basic principles could be implemented in the EU.”

Australia has been sending immigrants arriving in the continent in boats to offshore detention facilities on islands belonging to Nauru and Papua New Guinea, a practice criticized by the UN and rights watchdogs.