Austria looks set to construct more border fences

Ministers said that up to ten new ‘border management systems’ will be installed – and according to a report on ORF radio this will mean more fences and barriers going up along the border, as well as increased patrols by police and soldiers.

Austria has been constructing a fence at Spielfeld in Styria, the main border crossing used by migrants coming in from neighbouring Slovenia.

From Monday each migrant will be checked and registered, but there has been concern that this will cause a massive build up of people waiting on the border – who will then try to find alternative routes to cross into Austria – most likely via Carinthia and Tyrol. Currently around 1,000 migrants and refugees are arriving daily at the Spielfeld border crossing.

The fence there is 3.7 km long and cost exactly €293,289.37 – a figure confirmed by Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP). Each kilometre is costing taxpayers almost €80,000 – a figure which includes materials, labour, and machinery hire.

The vineyard owners on whose property the fence has been built have not yet been given any compensation, as an expert review on the losses they might incur is still pending.

ORF radio reports that it has been confirmed that a fence will also go up in Rosenbach in Carinthia and that the border towns of Brenner and Tarvisio on the Tyrolean/Italian border are also likely to see fences constructed in the next few weeks – a move that may prove unpopular with Italy.

Carinthia’s Governor Peter Kaiser (SPÖ) told ORF radio that he’s in favour of stricter controls and border management systems, and wants to see army patrols reinforced if necessary.

Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil told the Krone newspaper that the army is also prepared to step up patrols on Austria’s border with Hungary, which was the main crossing point for refugees last summer. He said it was unclear how many migrants were still evading Hungarian controls and crossing over into Austria.

The number of migrants and refugees arriving in Austria hit 90,000 in 2015, more than triple the 28,000 for 2014.

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