Austria deploys soldiers and armoured vehicles to stop the flood of illegal migrants from Italy
The Austrian government took action to tighten the border at Brenner Pass, a key trade and transport route through the Alps that connects the two countries.
The number of asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean from Libya into Italy — 85,000 so far this year — has become unmanageable. Migrant arrivals so far this year are 20 percent higher than at the same time in 2016.
“We are ready to protect our Brenner border,” said Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian foreign minister.
Italy cannot absorb the tens of thousands of migrants landing on its shores, more than half of them from the west African countries of Nigeria and Mali.
“It is unrealistic to think that Italy should have the responsiblity to disembark everyone,” said Vincent Cochetel, special envoy for the central Mediterranean. “This is not sustainable.”
The refugee relocation program as dictated by the European Union demanded that 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece be dispersed to other European countries.
Only 20,000 have been relocated so far. Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic have refused to take part in the chaos, vowing to suffer sanctions from the European Union rather than jeopardize the safety and security of its citizens.