On the Slovenian-Austrian border over the weekend, security officers at both sides were conducting detailed security checks of thousands of migrants crossing toward western Europe, in the wake of the Paris attacks. The detailed searches have caused a large pileup of migrants on the border.
In a move that could slow the flood of refugees flooding into Europe, Austria is joining Slovenia in setting up a fence to control Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Austrian authorities say they want to build a three kilometer fence up from the border post down there to better control the flow of migrants or refugees.
The fences have come to symbolize a threat to what European unionists consider one of their greatest achievements-the 1995 “Schengen Agreement” that created open borders between 26 European states.
“There were still people amongst us who supported helping the migrants. Until one moment: that moment was Paris,” one anti-immigration protest leader said.
CCTV’s Guy Henderson reports from the Austrian-Slovenian border-where one of the fences if about to go up.
Austria sets up fence to control migrant crisisCCTV's Guy Henderson reports from the Austrian-Slovenian border-where one of the fences if about to go up
The migrants, fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, were body searched and their belongings were scanned on Monday at the Sentilj border crossing as authorities in both countries stepped up security after 129 people were killed in the Paris violence on Friday.
One of the suicide bombers who blew himself up outside the national soccer stadium in Paris was identified as having traveled the so-called Balkan migrant corridor in October with a Syrian passport. There were clashes between pro and anti-migrant demonstrators near the main border entry point into Austria used by those looking for a better life in the Europe Union.
District Commissioner Manfred Walch of Austria said Monday the weekend unrest near the Spielfeld crossing from Slovenia involved members of about 500 pro- and 800 anti-migrant protesters. About 80 vehicles and several fences were damaged in Sunday’s melee.
European officials have expressed concern about the bomber who held the Syrian passport. A top European Union official said the bloc’s refugee policy does not need to be overhauled in the wake of the Paris attacks and was urging world leaders not to start treating asylum-seekers as terrorists.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, said Sunday that “those who organized these attacks, and those who carried them out, are exactly those who the refugees are fleeing”, although he told reporters at the G-20 summit in Turkey that “there is no need to revise the European Union’s entire refugee policy.”
Even so, before the Paris attacks, the mood in Central Europe was decidedly anti-migrant, with fences going up on borders, a Syrian beaten on a Polish street last week, and the rhetoric sharp across the region. Now the bloodshed unleashed by Islamic extremists has deepened fears of Muslims and threatened to create an atmosphere even less welcoming for those fleeing war in the Middle East.
Poland’s incoming government declared Saturday it would not accept refugees without security guarantees, although Juncker urged them “to be serious about this, and not to give in (to) these basic reactions.”
After new Prime Minister Beata Szydlo of Poland was sworn in on Monday, she and other government members supported the idea of sending humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, but not letting them into Europe.
Meanwhile, Germany’s defense minister was pushing back against the idea that extremists are entering Europe as refugees.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was calling for a change in France’s Syria policy and suggested working with Russia to “destroy” the Islamic State group. Sarkozy, head of the conservatives, said tight security must not only protect the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Paris but also all French people. So far 127 world leaders are expected to attend the first day of the climate conference on Nov. 30.
French President François Hollande was meeting Sunday with opposition leaders, including popular far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who has used the attacks on Paris to advance an anti-immigrant agenda.
Nearly 400,000 migrants passed through Hungary this year. Right now, there has built fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia to divert the flow of migrants.
Viktor Orban, Hungary’s strongly anti-immigration prime minister, said the European Union was “weak, uncertain and paralyzed” in light of the migrant crisis. He told lawmakers Monday that the E.U. plan to distribute migrants among member countries was unlawful and would “spread terrorism around Europe”, and EU needs to “forget political correctness and return to common sense” by adopting policies to protect its external borders, its culture and its economic interests and ensure that people are given the right to influence EU decisions.
The anti-migrant mood spread quickly to the United States. Last Sunday Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced he is refusing Syrian refugees from relocating to his state.
He said, “After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is working diligently with federal agencies to monitor any possible threats. To date there has been no credible intelligence of terror threats in Alabama.
Story compiled with information by CCTV America and Associated Press