Austria: Border Controls Tightened Amid Migrant Crisis

In Austria, border controls are being tightened amid a devastating migrant crisis. The heightened security was prompted by the discovery of 71 bodies inside a food delivery truck, which was found parked on an Austrian highway. Although the incident is still under investigation, authorities believe the victims were Syrian refugees.

The grisly discovery brought worldwide attention to the ongoing crisis, and the startling number of migrants who risk their lives to reach the European Union.

As reported by Reuters, an estimated 340,000 refugees entered the EU between January and August, 2015. The number is specifically disturbing, as there was a 175 percent increase in the last seven months.

CNN reports a majority of the “migrants and refugees are fleeing war, persecution, and poverty in Africa and the Arabian peninsula.” An estimated 50 percent are citizens of Eritrea and Syria.

As the migrants frequently use unconventional, and dangerous, methods to reach the EU, they are often risking their lives. According to the International Organizations for Migration, Europe’s external borders are some of the world’s deadliest.

“Since the year 2000, over 22,000 migrants have lost their lives trying to reach Europe. Over the last year, the increase in deaths has largely been driven by a surge in the number of fatalities in the Mediterranean region. Why this is occurring is not entirely clear, but likely reflects a dramatic increase in the number of migrants trying to reach Europe.”

Migrants are also risking their lives crossing the borders in trucks and vans — which are often overcrowded and poorly ventilated.

Last week, the bodies of 71 migrants were found inside a food delivery truck on an Austrian highway. Although the investigation is ongoing, authorities believe the victims, which include several children, suffocated to death.

The following day, officials discovered another vehicle packed with 26 migrants. Although the migrants were found alive, authorities confirmed three young children were hospitalized with “severe dehydration.”

In an attempt to prevent further tragedy, Germany, Hungary, and Austria increased border controls on Monday morning.

USA Today reports the security checks are causing traffic jams in several locations. However, “more than 200 refugees” were detained in Austria alone. Authorities also arrested five suspected human smugglers.

Although the increased Austrian border controls are proving to be somewhat successful, European leaders are working toward a long-term solution.

A summit, which is scheduled for September 14, will focus on “a strategy for dealing with the [migrant] crisis.”

Authorities have not provided a timeline for the Austrian border controls.

[Image via Rafael Yaghobzadeh / Getty Images]