Austria turns away more migrants at Italian border

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Photo: The Local Italy/Angela Guiffrida
11:07 CEST+02:00
Austrian police say there has been a “creeping rise” in the number of migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross into the country from Italy.

Head of Tyrol police Helmut Tomac has said that between 40 and 50 asylum seekers or migrants are stopped every day at the Brenner border crossing between Austria and Italy, compared to around ten per day in May.

Although stressing there was no reason to panic, Governor of Tyrol Günther Platter told Tiroler Tageszeitung: “In the view of the heightening of the refugee situation in Italy, there probably needs to be increasing vigilance.”

His comments follows chaotic scenes recently at the Italian-French border when 200 people attempting to swim to France were turned back and deported to southern Italy.

Hundreds of asylum seekers also became stuck in the Italian city of Como after being turned away at the Swiss border.

Following the closure of the so-called West Balkans migrant route and the EU's controversial deal to return migrants from Greece to Turkey, many people attempted instead to get to Europe via Italy's shores.

More than 94,000 migrants have arrived at southern Italian ports so far this year leading to Austrian authorities strengthening controls at the border with Italy.

Platter said that should France and Switzerland close their borders to Italy, the pressure will fall on Austria, “especially Tyrol”. “We can’t steer our country into an unacceptable situation with open eyes,” he said.

Meanwhile, figures released in Germany have shown that thousands of migrants have been left stranded in Austria this year after being rejected at the border by German authorities.

In the first half of the year, 10,600 people have reportedly been rejected at the border, compared to 8,900 in the whole of 2015.

According to Die Presse newspaper, many either continue trying to cross the border or enter a life of illegality as undocumented migrants.

Fall in asylum applications

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Austria has seen a drop in the number of people claiming asylum in its country compared to last year when it received 90,000 applications. According to Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil, Austria has accepted between 25,000 and 26,000 applications so far this year.

The country has set an upper limit of 37,500 asylum applications they are prepared to accept in 2016, a limit Doskozil has said they expect to reach by November.

Earlier this year, the Interior Ministry suggested the government should introduce emergency measures that include turning nearly all asylum seekers away at the border before this ‘upper limit’ is reached.

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