- Austrian soldiers deploy in the Italian border to carry out checks on migrants
- Four armoured vehicles have been sent to the southern border already
- Around 750 troops are primed to join armoured vehicles in scaling up operation
- Officials in Vienna have said they expect the border changes to come ‘very soon’
Via: Gareth Davies
Austria is preparing troops to defend its borders in the wake of Europe’s migrant influx.
The soldiers will be sent to the Italian border to carry out checks if the huge number of arrivals continues.
Government officials in Vienna have said 750 troops are primed to be sent and four armoured vehicles have already made their way to the country’s southern border.
Hans Peter Doskozil, Vienna’s defence minister, told the online edition of the Krone newspaper Austria would beef up its borders ‘very soon’ and added the move was ‘indispensable if the inflow into Italy does not ease’.
The move prompted Italy’s foreign ministry to summon the Austrian ambassador on Tuesday.
The ministry said the move followed ‘the declarations of the Austrian government concerning the deployment of troops to the Brenner Pass’ on the border.
The vehicles were sent on the weekend and paves the way for a similar system as is seen on its eastern border.
In 2015, Austria introduced checks on the border with Hungary and the new measures would affect the country’s Brenner Pass.
This year alone, more than 100,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea, according to the UN refugee agency.
It prompted Italy to beg other European countries to accept migrant ships and threatened to close its ports as the nation struggles to deal with record numbers.
Refugee arrivals are up nearly 19 per cent over the same period last year and Rome has threatened to close its ports to privately-funded aid boats or insist that funding be cut to EU countries which fail to help.
Italian interior minister Marco Minniti has now urged his French and German counterparts to discuss a ‘coordinated response’ to Italy’s migrant crisis.
It comes as it emerged that 69 migrants have died off the Costa del Sol trying to make the perilous crossing to southern Spain – a route increasingly being used by people desperate to enter Europe.
Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’s special envoy for the central Mediterranean, told reporters in Geneva: ‘This is not sustainable. We need to have other countries joining Italy and sharing that responsibility.’
The issue has reared its head ahead of elections in Austria set for October with the anti-immigration far-right party tipped to do well.