Germany, Austria Impose Emergency Border Controls
Germany and Austria have imposed emergency border controls to handle the flood of migrants that continues to pour into the European Union.
In a sudden crackdown Sunday, Germany shut down rail service from Austria for 12 hours and imposed systematic passport checks at the border, reported The Wall Street Journal. And in response, Austria sent soldiers to its border with Hungary Monday to help police monitor the crossing and check documents.
Germany’s move is seen as a warning to other EU members to assume more of the burden, ahead of a meeting with EU interior ministers Monday to figure out how to redistribute 160,000 migrants claiming asylum. Some countries are refusing to take in even the mandatory minimum of migrants. (RELATED: Migrants Headed For Europe Predominantly Adult Men)
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa are expected to enter the EU in the next several years. Germany had expected to take in 800,000 migrants in 2015 — four times the number in 2014 — but Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Monday that number has been revised upward to 1 million.
EU rules allow member countries to impose border controls in an otherwise passport-free travel zone for up to two months in emergency situations. Germany is the first to notify the EU of such controls in this case. (RELATED: U.S. Intel Chief Says Syrian Migrants Could Be ISIS Ticket Into Europe)
Just last week, Germany helped thousands of migrants cross the Austrian border and welcomed them into the country with applause and supplies. That inspired more to make the journey, and the sudden reversal frustrated many migrants.
“We’ve traveled so far, thousands of kilometres, and now they’re closing the borders,” one migrant stuck at the Austria-Germany border with her two children told The Guardian. She says she recently escaped Islamic State territory. “Is it open, is it closed? It’s very unfair,” she said.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the goal of the controls is to restore order, not close the border. “Refugees will continue to come to Germany,” Steffen Seibert said. “We hope that this can happen in a more orderly process and in a fully European process in which every member state does its duty of solidarity.”
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