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08/12/2016

Austria approves fence on Slovenian border

Justice & Home Affairs

Austria approves fence on Slovenian border

Austria is set to erect a border fence, although on a smaller scale than the one built by Hungary.

[Freedom House/Flickr]

The Austrian government has, at the last hour, approved a control system on its border with Slovenia that will actually include a fence. EurActiv Germany reports.

In the last few days, it looked as if the ruling coalition would cave in under the pressure it has struggled to cope with. Finally, it has been announced, after interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) said that the country had “run out of patience”.

Now, a short fence on the Austria-Slovenia border will be built; a measure that the leaders and citizens of the most-affected regions have long called for. It is intended to help regulate the flow of refugees and register them more efficiently. At the same time, Vienna has avoided shutting itself off completely, like Hungary has done in the past few months.

>>Read: Right-wing party files criminal complaint against Austrian government over refugee crisis

In the area of the border that has seen the most crossings by refugees, a so-called LED-wall will be put up. Upon reaching the border, refugees will be given coloured bands and the display will show them where they will be able to take their onwards-transportation. The control system will be supplemented by a chain-link fence, the so-called G7 model.

Heading east, the fence will be 200 metres long and to the west, 3.5 km, where it reaches the nearest village of Graßnitzberg-Plac. Originally, a 25 km long fence was in the offing, but that has been significantly revised down to 3.7 km. Additionally, military units will be on stand-by with barbed-wire, to be used in emergencies and if large numbers of people try to cross the border illegally at once.

>>Read: Asselborn: ‘only months’ to save Schengen

This system is going to be first rolled out at the crossing point near the town of Spielfeld. Should another crossing point become inundated, it is hoped that it will be possible to copy the model and use it elsewhere.