Austria to deploy army to help with migrant influx
Austria reacted Monday to Germany’s decision to reintroduce border controls to stem the influx of migrants with plans to increase its own checks with the help of the 2,200 military personnel.
Germany’s announcement Sunday left Austria in a difficult position, with thousands of migrants crossing from Hungary every day now effectively stranded.
“The police and the Austrian interior ministry need support, they need support from the Austrian army,” Chancellor Werner Faymann said.
“The main focus of the support will be in domestic humanitarian help, but it will also assist in a strengthening of border controls where necessary,” Faymann told reporters in Vienna.
Faymann said that the decisions are “a clear signal (to the international community) that Austria and Germany cannot solve the world’s asylum question alone.”
Overnight around 4,500 migrants entered Austria at the main border crossing point with Hungary at Nickelsdorf, with police saying they expected thousands more during Monday.
A further 3,000 also crossed at Heiligenkreuz near Graz, where police said around 500 more were arriving every hour.
In recent weeks, tens of thousands of migrants have travelled up the western Balkans from Greece into Hungary and then Austria, all but a handful continuing to Germany — which has relaxed asylum rules for Syrians — and also Sweden.
A record 5,809 entered Hungary on Sunday, police said Monday, smashing the previous day’s record of 4,330.
The sharp increase came ahead of harsh new Hungarian laws coming into force Tuesday under which people entering the EU country illegally can be jailed for up to three years.
Migrants told an AFP correspondent on the Hungarian border that buses were taking them straight to train station at Szeged to go to Budapest, and not to a registration camp.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said late Sunday that unless Austria copied Germany and reintroduced border checks, the country would be “completely overwhelmed within a few days.
“We have to be aware that if we leave open (the borders), every day we will get 10,000 people who would then stay in Austria. Our geographical situation is that we are the last country, the last attractive target country, in the chain before Germany,” Kurz said.
Faymann is due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, Faymann’s office said.