Austria’s interior minister says that no one fleeing regions of war or persecution will be turned back to Hungary despite the introduction of controls at borders separating the two countries.
Johanna Mikl-Leitner’s comments Tuesday came shortly before Austria imposed temporary controls at its border points with Hungary, starting immediately after midnight.
Mikl-Leitner told state broadcaster ORF that Syrians and others in danger in their home countries can continue to ask for asylum in Austria. She says they will also be free to travel on to Germany, as was the case up to now.
Her comments shed light on previous uncertainty over whether such migrants would be allowed to continue their journey. The ministry earlier said only that all travellers must carry a passport or EU-recognized identity document.
Austrian police welcome refugees as they arrive at Heiligenkreuz, Austria, late Tuesday. (The Associated Press)
It also said the controls could be extended to the country’s borders with Slovenia, Italy and Slovakia, if needed. That reflects the possibility that people now streaming into Austria from Hungary could instead try to cross into Austria over those borders in large numbers.
Hungary seals border with Serbia
Hungary declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and sealed off its southern border with Serbia, detaining those trying to enter illegally and aiming to shut down the flow of migrants pouring in. Chaos ensued at the border, as hundreds of migrants piled up in a no man’s land, and Serbian officials reacted with outrage.
Stuck for an unknown amount of time on a strip of road between the two countries’ checkpoints, those fleeing violence in their homelands pitched tents and settled in. But frustrations were on the rise. As a police helicopter hovered above, migrants chanted “Open the border!” and shouted insults at Hungarian riot police. Some refused food and water in protest.
Migrants look through the border fence between Serbia and Hungary, near Horgos, Serbia, Tuesday. (Zoltan Mathe/MTI/Associated Press)
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a special EU refugee summit, urging unity after an angry reaction to a suggestion by one of her ministers that states that didn’t take in their share of asylum seekers could face financial penalties.
The proposal by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere was forcefully rejected by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are among eastern European states that have …Read More