• Austria's news in English

Austria's policy 'improving business for smugglers'

The Local · 15 Apr 2016, 12:33

Published: 15 Apr 2016 12:33 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Preparations to raise fences in the province of Burgenland along Austria's border with Hungary are already underway, with the first phrase of fences planned at the border crossings of Moschendorf and Heiligenbrunn and later at Heiligenkreuz und Nickelsdorf.

A regional police spokesman told the ORF that the measures were being taken following the experience in September and October last year when refugees made their way by foot from Hungary to Austria.

Meanwhile a border inspection centre and a barrier are being built at the Brenner border pass between Italy and Austria, with the Interior Ministry expecting many migrants and refugees to come via Italy following the closure of the West Balkans route.

The Ministry confirmed on Thursday that these measures at Brenner alone will cost around 1.1 million.

Migrant policy is "a trafficker promotion programme”

As the routes to central Europe have gradually been shut down, Austria has seen an increase in the number smuggling incidents.

Just last Monday 27 refugees - including 16 children and teenagers - were found in the back of a truck that had been pulled over for a police check near Rohrbach.

The smuggler - a 31-year-old Ukrainian - had handed over the driving to one of the refugees and already left the vehicle but was picked up by authorities a short while later.

The Federal Office of Crime have confirmed that smuggling is again on the rise, with the head of the office Gerald Tatzgern telling the ORF the smugglers are trying to find ways to bring migrants into Austria.

Speaking to The Local Austria, the head of Austria’s Red Cross Migration and Legal Affairs Bernhard Schneider says these smuggling incidents are a direct consequence of the closure of migrants routes for refugees.

“The closure of any migrant route leads without doubt to improved business for smugglers. With the closing of the borders - the west Balkan route or the building of control infrastructure at Brenner - refugees have no other possibility than to journey with smugglers,” Schneider said.

“Smugglers demand a lot of money and the routes they take are obviously illegal and therefore difficult, dangerous and lengthy. For these reasons the danger to smuggled refugees, either to their health or even to their lives, is clearly higher."

"Only at the end of August 2015 on the east motorway A4 in Austria was a refrigerated truck found with 71 dead refugees inside, including women and children.”

"You can therefore conclude that the policy of closing the asylum route is good business for smugglers and causes deaths. One must be clear about these consequences.”

Story continues below…

Herbert Langthaler from Austria’s Asylkoordination, which provides legal support to refugees, agrees, describing European refugee politics as “something like a trafficker promotion programme”.

“If politics, police and army try to prevent refugees from coming in the country legally there is no other opportunity than to ask traffickers for the transport,” he said, speaking to the Local Austria

Many Austrian NGOs are instead calling for the government to introduce an effective legal route for people to travel to the EU to they can apply for international protection.

“Of course the protection of borders is a legitimate concern of governments and a responsibility of the state,” Schneider said. “But more important than the protection of borders is the protection of fleeing people.”

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flick

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

Baumgartner 'failed to mention Red Bull' before jumping to Earth
Felix Baumgartner. Photo: Red Bull Stratos

Felix Baumgartner has been accused of cheating his Red Bull sponsors after he failed to mention the energy drink just before he jumped to Earth.

Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available