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Austria Announces Limits on Asylum Requests, Entries

  • VOA News

FILE - A group of migrants move through snow toward a train station to be transferred to Austria, near the border with Croatia, in Dobova, Slovenia, Jan. 3, 2016.

FILE - A group of migrants move through snow toward a train station to be transferred to Austria, near the border with Croatia, in Dobova, Slovenia, Jan. 3, 2016.

Austria on Wednesday announced a daily limit of 80 asylum requests at southern border crossing points with Slovenia.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner also said that effective Friday, up to 3,200 people “who are seeking international protection in a neighboring country” would be allowed to enter Austria.

She said that once the daily limit was reached, crossings would be temporarily closed to migrants, but further requests for asylum would remain possible for those already in the country.

Austria has been on the transit route for migrants aiming to reach Germany, the country that has hosted the largest number of asylum seekers, most of them fleeing the Syrian war.

On the eve of a European Union summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged a "common stance" in the 28-nation grouping, taking as an example an EU-Turkey agenda that she said "offers a good solution."

In an effort to stop refugees crossing to Greece on their quest to reach more prosperous northern European nations, EU countries pledged $3.3 billion last year to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.

In an interview published Wednesday in the German daily Bild, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Europe was making progress in addressing the migrant crisis, and he praised Merkel for sticking to "longsighted" policies in the face of criticism. Juncker said history would prove Merkel and her liberal refugee policy right.

European Union leaders will hold a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday amid deep differences over migrant policy. Merkel's open-door stance to migrants and refugees has been under increased pressure from abroad and at home, including from within her own conservative bloc.

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