Germany has been refusing an increasing number of migrants at its southern border, Austrian authorities say. Hundreds of migrants have been sent back to Austria, from where many are trying to find new routes to Germany.
Since January 1, Germany has been rejecting more and more refugees trying to enter at its southern border, Austrian police reported on Monday.
"The daily number of migrants being turned back has risen from 60 in December to 200 since the start of the year," David Furtner, police spokesman in the province of Upper Austria, told the news agency AFP.
He added that those who had been rejected were refugees from Afghanistan, Morocco and Algeria who did not wish to apply for asylum in Germany, but rather in Scandinavian countries.
"German politicians seem to have decided to act with more firmness. The difficult thing (for us) is to explain if a migrants asks: Why can't I travel further now if my friend could still do it last week?" an Upper Austrian police spokeswoman noted.
Speaking with Reuters, a police spokeswoman in Munich confirmed that Germany has been sending back up to 100 or so migrants, but she did not confirm an increase in the rejections.
"We apply the valid legal rules. They haven't changed," she said.
Some believe the increased numbers of rejected refugees is due to increasingly tighter EU border controls. Last week, Sweden tried to lessen the flow of migrants by imposing border controls on those entering the country from Denmark.
Denmark then introduced checks on those arriving from Germany. Austria has also tightened controls on its border with Slovenia, sending back 1,652 migrants since January 1, according to police.
Others believe the rising refugee refusals could be due to the recent New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Cologne, which have prompted hundreds of complaints after police revealed that some of the suspects were asylum-seekers.
The backlash has led to protests and put pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policies.
rs/jm (AFP, Reuters)