Austria begins work on Slovenia border fence

Austria begins work on Slovenia border fence
Photo: ORF
Austria has begun installing a 3.7 km long fence at a border crossing with Slovenia, in what the interior ministry has said is a necessary measure to help control the flow of refugees and migrants.

A Tyrolean construction company has been driving the first metal posts into the ground and delivering the special wire mesh which will be used to build the fence. 38 soldiers from Villach are helping to assemble the fence, which is expected to be finished before Christmas.

The fence is being built in several stages as negotiations with some landowners in the area are still ongoing, a police spokesman said. Several vineyard owners have expressed concern that the fence could disrupt their vines and could also affect tourism in the region.

The fence will be 2.5 metres high and does not require any reinforcement with concrete. When it is no longer deemed necessary, the posts can be relatively easily removed and the wire mesh rolled up and taken away, without leaving any remnants which might disturb the natural surroundings.

On Monday morning around 1,200 refugees were waiting in Sentilj, Slovenia, to cross the border into Austria.

Austria and Slovenia, which share a 330-kilometre border, have found themselves major destinations for hundreds of thousands of people bound for northern Europe this year.

Most travel onwards to Germany and Scandinavia but Austria still expects a record 95,000 asylum claims this year, making it one of the highest per capita recipients.

Austria's move is the latest in a series of tough measures taken by countries to tackle the continent's worst refugee crisis since World War II, a trend which has accelerated since the Paris attacks on November 13th.

The flow of refugees and migrants has slowed significantly in recent weeks due to poor weather making crossing the Mediterranean more difficult and a Turkish crackdown on people smugglers, according to the UN refugee agency.