Austria consider fences at border with Hungary
The Local · 22 Mar 2016, 07:39
Published: 22 Mar 2016 07:39 GMT+01:00
- Drop in state funds puts Austrian refugee NGOs at risk (21 Mar 16)
- Thousands protest against refugee policies in Vienna (20 Mar 16)
- Austria asylum cap 'unlawful and unconstitutional' (16 Mar 16)
Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told the ORF that, following the shut down of the West Balkan route, attention should turn now to the closure of the eastern Balkan route as increasing numbers of refugees are expected to try and travel into Europe via Bulgaria.
She has predicted as many as 1.1 million refugees could come via the eastern Balkans.
"If it is necessary then we would build further fences just like in Spielfeld, build containers and put police and soldiers in the area," she said.
She has also said that if necessary all 13 official border-crossing points in Austria should be controlled by police and the military. Controls are already in place in some areas of Austria, including it's borders with Italy, Germany and Slovenia, where at the latter a fence has also been erected.
"We need to make Austria and Europe into a fortress. We have made decisions, but they need to be implemented. And even if we have a 100-percent-working solution, we still need to be alert on a daily basis because there will always be new ways to get round the system," the minister said.
The regional governor of Austria's eastern Burgenland province, which border Hungary, agrees with the minister's policy.
Burgenland governor Hans Niessl was one of the first in Austria to demand tougher controls, as he says they are essential in order to stop human traffickers.
He said: "If we allow unchecked immigration it will be the end of the social state system, because the more people come in, the less chances there are for others who are socially disadvantaged.
"Tougher controls and closer cooperation with Hungary is the key to tackling the traffickers."
Niessl is also looking at getting permission from the national government to take measures in cutting benefits to people who come from abroad but do not speak German, do not make any effort to gain an education, and from his perspective show no interest in gaining a career.
He added that as the former border to the Iron Curtain, locals were used to being on the front line, and many felt insecure now once again with revelations that it was even possible for example to catch a shuttle bus taking refugees from Budapest to Vienna.
Niessl added that the Austrian military also revealed the budget had been increased in order to allow troops to join in the securing the green border of forests and hills as soon as possible.
He added: "If the Schengen exterior borders cannot be closed, and there are no professional standards, then it's clear that individual countries need to step in. Everything else would be politically negligent. If we don't succeed, it will mean the end of the EU."
The calls follow an Austrian Secret Service report that suggests the numbers of refugees is not set to decrease this year. It says that as well as Syria, there was evidence that refugees from many other areas will now also be heading to Europe.
It highlighted the example of a recent Greek coastal intervention in which a boat was found containing 66 migrants. Alongside 32 from Syria and three from Afghanistan, there were also migrants from Myanmar, the Dominican Republic, Tajikistan, southern Sudan, Guinea, Burundi, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Cuba, and Senegal. The same day another boat was found to also contain 66 Burmese refugees. The report added that a large increase in the number of refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan was also expected this year.
The report declares that the reason for the mass movement was because of the opinion among the asylum seekers that they would get a warm welcome in Germany, and that the attempt to cancel this message had almost no effect. With the population of Africa growing by 30 million a year, and with war and the effects of climate change, many refugees are heading north.
Thomas Silberhorn, the Parliamentary Secretary to the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, said: "The migration pressure from Africa is far larger than we until now believed possible."
Austria currently has a limit of 37,500 asylum applications allowed per year, and she said that there was now around 100 being processed a day but no longer at the borders, and instead the applications were being made inside the country from refugees already there. If it continues at that rate, no more asylum applications will be able to be made from autumn.
Currently there are 60,000 people applying for asylum already in Austria.
Story courtesy of Central European News