Saturday 1 October 2016

EU borders tighten as Austria, Germany impose new controls

Raziye Akkoc in Vienna

Published 15/09/2015 | 02:30

A young syrian girl sits on the tracks at the Serbian border with Hungary as she and her family wait for darkness before heading across country in Hungary. Although shoeless the little girl was in good spiritis.
A young syrian girl sits on the tracks at the Serbian border with Hungary as she and her family wait for darkness before heading across country in Hungary. Although shoeless the little girl was in good spiritis.
Refugees rest after crossing the border between Hungary and Austria in Nickelsdorf yesterday.
An Afghan refugee woman holding her daughter rests while waiting to board a train heading to the Austrian border. It is obvious that what we are now witnessing a disaster of global proportions that demands a global solution.
A Syrian refugee girl looks out the window from inside a bus after disembarking a passenger ship at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece. Photo: REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis
Police officers stop refugees after taking them off the train at the rail station in Freilassing, Germany (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
A Syrian refugee carries his sleeping daughter as they walk towards Greece's border, with Macedonia near the Greek village of Idomeni. Photo: REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis
A German policeman watches as migrants are taken off a train at a border station in Freilassing, Germany Photo: REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
Refugees on the road between Austria and Hungary. (AP)
Migrants and refugees wait for buses after crossing the border between Hungary and Austria (AP)
Hundreds turned out on Sandymount Strand in Dublin yesterday to send a strong message to the Government that people in Ireland want to extend the welcome to refugees. Photo: Fergal Phillips
A child in the refugee camp in Lebanon
Children playing in the refugee camp in Lebanon

Europe's borders tightened yesterday as Germany's vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, warned that his country could receive up to one million people seeking refugee status.

  • Go To

Shortly after Germany imposed tighter border controls on its Austrian frontier, Austria and Slovakia followed suit.

Hungary also cracked down, closing the main border crossing for migrants entering from Serbia.

Amid the tightening of controls, EU ministers held emergency talks in Brussels, where they formally approved an initial plan to relocate 40,000 of the refugees.

However, they failed to get unanimous approval for the plan for the other 120,000.

Meanwhile, Austria has put 2,200 soldiers on standby to help with the relief effort for the stranded refugees.

A German policeman watches as migrants are taken off a train at a border station in Freilassing, Germany Photo: REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
A German policeman watches as migrants are taken off a train at a border station in Freilassing, Germany Photo: REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

It was widely anticipated that a pledge to increase reception facilities in the frontline states of Greece and Italy would be issued.

It is also understood that the EU has approved military action against people smugglers in the Mediterranean, seizing and if necessary destroying boats.

A Syrian refugee girl looks out the window from inside a bus after disembarking a passenger ship at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece. Photo: REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis
A Syrian refugee girl looks out the window from inside a bus after disembarking a passenger ship at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece. Photo: REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis

Earlier in Brussels, the Czech Republic and Slovakia vehemently opposed plans to introduce compulsory refugee quotas.

It was also revealed in Germany that Berlin's famous Nazi-era Tempelhof airport is to become a refugee shelter.

Hundreds turned out on Sandymount Strand in Dublin yesterday to send a strong message to the Government that people in Ireland want to extend the welcome to refugees. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Hundreds turned out on Sandymount Strand in Dublin yesterday to send a strong message to the Government that people in Ireland want to extend the welcome to refugees. Photo: Fergal Phillips

The airport, which has been disused since 2008, will house up to 1,200 refugees in two former hangars, the Berlin state government announced.

The airport is famous both for its Nazi past and as the scene of the Berlin Airlift, when the Western Allies thwarted Soviet attempts to starve West Berlin into submission by flying supplies in.

Meanwhile, in Hungary it is understood that officials were ushering migrants straight to the Austrian border.

According to the UN refugee agency, Budapest is transporting thousands of migrants and refugees to the Austrian border, suggesting it is no longer registering them.

"Our information is that special trains are taking migrants from Roszke (train) station direct without stopping to the Austrian border," Erno Simon, a Hungary spokesman for the UNHCR Regional Representation for Central Europe, said.

The UNHCR says the traffic over the border at Roszke, the main crossing point between Serbia and Hungary, had slowed yesterday.

In Germany, while police were carrying out passport checks on the border with Austria, those with a genuine claims to asylum were still being allowed in, according to 'Spiegel' magazine.

"Basically, little has changed," an unnamed police officer said. "If we really closed the border, we'd see scenes like Hungary straight away."

The imposition of border controls was more about sending a message to other EU countries ahead of the talks in Brussels than stopping refugees, the report claims.

Asylum

While the official line is that those without passports or EU national ID cards will not be allowed across, refugees claiming asylum are taken by the police to clearing houses, where they are registered, whether they have passports or not, according to the report.

The measure appears to be designed to prevent economic migrants from entering.

But the police officer told 'Spiegel': "They all present themselves as Syrians, even if they are obviously black Africans." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News