Austria Sends 400 Troops to Border, Claims EU Asylum System ‘Failed’

Austrian armed forces soldiers arrive to the RAAB barracks in Mautern, Austria, on May 4, 2020 following a general call-up amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by HELMUT FOHRINGER / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by HELMUT FOHRINGER/APA/AFP via Getty Images)

The Austrian federal government has sent an additional 400 soldiers to the border with Hungary as the number of illegal migrant crossings has surged this year.

Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer and Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner held a joint press conference on Saturday announcing the build-up of troops on the Hungarian border to stop illegal migration.

“The European asylum system has failed,” Interior Minister Nehammeer told reporters and added: “We have to make sure that the welfare state does not topple over.”

According to the Austrian newspaper Kurier, the number of illegal crossings has surged so far this year with at least 15,000 illegal border crossings, while 2020 saw 21,700 crossings. Austrian authorities have also arrested 200 people smugglers so far this year.

Nehammer stated that the situation at the Hungarian border was serious and required an additional 400 soldiers at the border, nearly doubling the number of personnel to 1,000 overall.

The interior minister was also hesitant to confirm how long the troop surge would be in place, saying that it would be “continuously evaluated” over the next several months.

“We are being abandoned by the EU on this issue,” Nehammer stated and criticised the European Commission and neighbouring Hungary, saying that Austria planned to form a “coalition of the willing” to tackle illegal migration, including Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Last week, Hungary also announced that it would be deploying police to its borders with Serbia, Slovenia, and North Macedonia to prevent illegal immigrants and people smugglers from entering the country.

In March, Greek media noted a surge in activity along the country’s border with North Macedonia at the area around Idomeni, a former hotspot during the height of the European migrant crisis.

Many in the EU are also concerned over the potential for a new wave of refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan as the Taliban continues to take more territory and the United States leaves the country.

Reports from earlier this month have claimed that Turkey has seen hundreds of Afghan migrants cross into their country every day as the Taliban advances.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz warned on Sunday that the Afghan situation could lead to another crisis and said: “Austria and Germany taking in a large number of people like in 2015 cannot solve Afghanistan’s problems.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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