Austrian troops may stop Italy migrants at Brenner Pass
Austria is ready to deploy troops and armor at the Brenner Pass – a border crossing with Italy – if the influx of immigrants into Italy continues to grow.
Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil announced the measures in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung.
He said four Pandur armored vehicles had been sent to the Tyrol region and that 750 soldiers were on alert.
Austria has established its borders with Hungary. But in other places, it adheres to the system of opening of the borders of the EU.
Mr. Doskozil said a military deployment at the Brenner Pass would be “essential so that the influx of Italy [across the Mediterranean] does not diminish.”
The gangs of people smugglers exploited violence and chaos in Libya. The shortest journey from Libya to Italy is about 460 kilometers (290 miles).
Italy warned that the current arrivals of migrants is unsustainable and could even close their ports and salvage ships to prevent aid agencies.
The Schengen system – free movement on most European borders – has been overwhelmed by the influx of immigrants and refugees by 2015.
They reached central Europe through the Balkans – and the most sought after asylum in Germany. Since then, controls closer to the borders in the Balkans have reduced the number to the north of Greece.
Most of the influx was in Austria by Hungary. Many of those who arrived by train or on foot were refugees from Syria, Iraq and other areas of conflict.
Brenner’s passage is now considered a potential point of migration, as the influx to Italy so far this year is greater than last year.
Around 85 000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy in the first half of this year, across the Mediterranean.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said about 20% of the first half of 2016. More than 2,000 people died trying to reach Italy.
Note on Terminology: The BBC uses the term “migrant” to refer to all persons on the move who have not yet completed the legal process asylum application.
This group includes people from war torn countries like Syria, who are prone to refugee status fleeing, and people seeking employment and a better life, which governments are prone to reign are economic migrants.