Skip to Content

Austrian border; migrants from Africa
Vienna

Another refugee crisis in Europe brews as Austria mulls Italian border closing

The Italian government has summoned Austria's ambassador after the government in Vienna announced it was ready to re-introduce border controls, suspend the EU's Schengen system and deploy troops at the border.

Published: July 5, 2017, 9:30 am

    Read more

    Italy had warned that the current flood of migrant arrivals was unsustainable and that it could close its ports and impound aid agencies’ rescue ships, but the Italians are furious with an Austrian decision to deploy troops and armored vehicles along the border to block migrants wanting to leave Italy.

    Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil told Austrian daily, Kronen Zeitung that troops would guard a busy Alpine pass and that four Pandur armoured personnel carriers had been sent to the Tyrol region with 750 troops on standby.

    “We need to prepare for the migration development in Italy, and I expect very promptly that border controls will have to be activated and assistance requested,” Hans Peter Doskozil told the online edition of the Krone daily.

    Doskozil said that a military presence at the Brenner Pass would be “indispensable if the influx into Italy [across the Mediterranean] does not diminish”. The Brenner pass is one of the main mountain thoroughfares in the eastern Alps.

    “We see how the situation in Italy is becoming more acute and we have to be prepared to avoid a situation comparable to summer 2015,” Doskozil’s spokesman told Reuters, without giving a specific timetable for the troop deployment.

    The Austrian Defence minister however explained that “these are not battle tanks. These are armored vehicles without weapons which could block roads. These were already used during the refugee crisis 201/16 at the Spielfeld border crossing [with Slovenia].”

    Italy’s foreign ministry said in response it had summoned Austrian Ambassador Rene Pollitzer “following the Austrian government’s statement about deploying troops to the Brenner (pass)”.

    While Austria has set up border control with Hungary and Slovenia, it has previously adhered to the EU’s Schengen system with neighbouring Italy. The Schengen Agreement enables border-free travel in much of the EU.

    Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told the Austria Press Agency that his government was prepared to “protect” the frontier with Italy “if necessary”.

    The Italian governor of South Tyrol, Arno Kompatscher, tried to defuse mounting tensions between Italy and Austria. According to the BBC, he said similar warnings on border control had been issued previously, while the situation there had remained “quiet and stable”. Kompatscher also noted that the anti-immigration Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) was expected to poll strongly which would explain the move blocking te border.

    Almost 85 000 migrants and refugees have already arrived in Italy in the first half of this year, crossing the Mediterranean with the help of human smugglers. The UN refugee agency UNHCR says that is about 20 percent more than in the first half of 2016.

    Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’S special envoy for the central Mediterranean, criticised the Austrian decision saying “this is not sustainable. We need to have other countries joining Italy and sharing that responsibility”. But very few countries in the EU want to “share the responsibility” of Germany’s generous refugee acceptance program.

    Ironically, the latest report by the same UNHCR, revealed more troubling figures: Few “refugees” will ever be granted asylum, as at least 70 percent of those arriving in Italy are economic migrants. Most migrants and refugees are young, single and male with little or no education from countries not currently engaged in conflict.

    In 2015, an influx of migrants and refugees coming through Central Europe via the Balkans, headed for Germany, sparking a crisis. Since then, tighter border controls in the Balkans have reduced the numbers heading north from Greece. Most of the influx to Austria was via Hungary.

    So far 101 000 migrants have entered Europe in 2017 via the Mediterranean.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    UK faces policing crisis as cops quit in huge numbers

    Law enforcement chiefs in Britain are struggling to find enough specialist detectives with three-quarters of stations admitting that they cannot fill vacancies because of the rate at which experienced officers are quitting the force.

    French official criticises British resolve to stop illegals

    In the fight against networks of human traffickers in the English Channel, the president of the Regional Council of Hauts-de-France has pleaded for stronger cooperation between France and Britain to end illegal immigration.

    Smartphones stolen in Barcelona turn up in Marrakesh

    A profitable black market in smartphones is encouraging the theft of mobile phones in the coastal city of Barcelona.

    Bertelsmann study: Does Germany really need more immigrants?

    Germany supposedly needs 260 000 immigrants each year, a study commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation has recently found. But the findings have drawn much criticism and incomprehension.

    Number of migrants in German prisons at a record high

    BerlinMigrant inmates in German prisons have skyrocketed, a new survey of the Justice Ministries in in Germany's 16 federal states show.

    Hungary launches seven-point family plan

    BudapestHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced a family protection plan in his state-of-the nation address in Budapest on Sunday.

    Act XIII: Protester’s hand torn off by police grenade

    ParisDuring the clashes that took place in front of the National Assembly in Paris over the weekend between police and Yellow Vests, a protester lost his hand. Tensions rose a notch in Paris on Saturday, February 9 on the occasion of Act XIII of the protest movement.

    UK Counter Terrorism interviews 8-year-old

    LondonIn Britain, an eight-year-old Muslim boy was questioned by two counter-terrorism police officers and a social worker at a school in east London because he had become so radicalized.

    French border officials caught forging migrant applications

    French border officials have been accused of forgery in order to send young migrants back to Italy.

    Smørdland-like knife murder attempt in IKEA Hamburg

    HamburgIn Hamburg-Schnelsen, Germany, a young man, 22, was stabbed on Saturday evening shortly after 6pm by a "Southerner" in the cashier area of IKEA.

    Go to archive