Friday 19 January 2018

Austria to build fence along border with Slovenia to deal with migrant crisis

Migrants arrive by bus at the border between Austria and Germany near Kollerschlag, Austria (AP)
Migrants arrive by bus at the border between Austria and Germany near Kollerschlag, Austria (AP)

Austria plans to erect a fence along parts of its border with Slovenia to bring order into the flow of people entering the country in search of a better life.

Slovenia, the main migrant entry point into Austria, also said it was ready to build a fence, threatening to set off a chain reaction from other countries along the land route used by those seeking to enter the EU.

Austrian interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told parliament that the construction of "technical barriers" would begin after about 10 days of planning.

In separate comments to state broadcaster ORF, she spoke of the need for a "fence" to maintain public order.

Defence Minister Gerald Klug said containers or railings could be set up to "be able to control the refugees in an orderly way".

Ms Mikl-Leitner insisted that there were no plans "to build a fence around Austria".

However, the project is likely to lead to criticism for the signal it sends to other nations struggling to cope with the migrant influx, and because of associations with the razor-wire fence Hungary has built to keep migrants out - a move Austria strongly criticised.

Since the Hungarians sealed their borders a few weeks ago, thousands of migrants using the western Balkans route into Austria and beyond have been flowing into Croatia and then Slovenia on a daily basis.

Slovenian officials suggested even before Austria's announcement that they too are considering a fence, in their case on the border with Croatia.

Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar said on Wednesday that "if necessary, we are ready to put up the fence immediately", in case a plan by EU and Balkan leaders fails to stem the migrant surge.

Press Association

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