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Austria to Build Border Fence to Control Flow of Migrants

by Carlo Angerer and Cassandra Vinograd /

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MAINZ, Germany — The Austrian government said Wednesday it will build barricades at its border with Slovenia to help control a flood of refugees.

More than 705,000 migrants and refugees have landed in Europe by sea so far this year, according to the United Nations. Most have headed north on long and fraught journeys in hopes of reaching countries perceived to be welcoming, such as Germany and Austria.

Image: Migrants Cross Into Slovenia
Migrants are seen near the Slovenian village of Rigonce on Oct. 23.Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

After Hungary sealed its border with Croatia, streams of refugees have diverted through the Balkans into Slovenia in hopes of pressing onwards.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told local radio on Wednesday that she wants to place "technical barricades" — including a fence — at the Slovenian border crossing.

The news was quickly slammed by rights organizations, with Doctors Without Borders saying Austria had chosen to follow Hungary's "appalling lead."

Austria's interior ministry stressed that there were no plans to seal the border, telling NBC News that the barricades were purely about controlling — not diverting — the flow of migrants and refugees.

"It's not about building a fence without a gap along," ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said.

Further details on the measures — including how long the fence would be — were not immediately available.

Slovenia said Tuesday that about 14,500 migrants were currently in the country hoping to continue their journey to Austria and that were more on their way, according to Reuters.

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