Austria is to reinforce its border with Italy, according to several newspaper reports in both Italy and Austria, to stem the tide of illegal migrants crossing on foot and by car. A larger presence of security officials will mean more stringent border checks and patrols.
According to a report in Il Giornale, Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has issued the order for a stronger police and army presence on all borders.
More than 16,000 people have nevertheless applied for asylum in Austria in the first half of 2017, despite most of the borders having been partly closed for six months, reports derstandard.at.
In 2015, Austria – like Germany – opened its borders to refugees and took in nearly 50,000 people fleeing mainly from Syria and Afghanistan. In 2017 the borders were again closed.
Amidst reports that large numbers of people are trying to cross into Austria from Italy on quiet alpine routes, zeit.de reported that Austria sent four tanks and 750 soldiers to monitor the area in early July.
According to Il Giornale, it is the border checkpoints at Brennero, Tarvinio, Resia and Prato Drava that Austria is concerned about and looking to secure. More than 4,000 asylum seekers entered Austria from Italy on the Brennero route, according to Austrian government figures cited in derstandard.at.
Border police and customs officers will receive "intense reinforcement and military support" from the army, Interior Minister Sobotka is reported as saying in the Austrian daily. The objective is to "dramatically reduce immigration," added Sobotka.
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and his Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozi had previously said there was "no need for temporary border controls."
Schengen rules state that EU borders should remain open, however clauses do allow for a reinstatement of border checks for a maximum of six months where there is a "foreseeable" need.
READ MORE: Austria tells Italy to keep migrants off mainland