Hundreds of Demonstrators to Protest Against Plan to Fence Off Italian-Austrian Border Crossing

Migrants disembark from the Italian Navy vessel Grecale in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy May 7, 2016. REUTERS/ Antonio Parrinello

ZURICH, May 7 – Around 400 protesters are expected to gather at the Brenner Pass between Italy and Austria on Saturday afternoon to protest a plan to restrict access through the Alpine crossing to control the movement of migrants, police said.

Austria has said it plans to erect a fence at the Brenner crossing it shares with Italy to “channel” people. Part of Europe’s borderless Schengen zone, Brenner is one of the routes that migrants use as they head towards wealthy northern Europe.

Local police in Tyrol, Austria said they expected the demonstration to start around 2:30 p.m. local time (1230 GMT), meeting at the Brenner station in Italy.

Italian newspaper Corriera della Sera reported earlier this week that the protest had been organised by an anarchist group from Trentino, northern Italy, and was expected to attract demonstrators from abroad.

Austria planned to send 300 police officers to the protests but were “ready to increase the number,” Tyrol police said, adding the Italian police were prepared to send the same number.

Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said in Rome last month that as many as a million migrants were poised to cross the Mediterranean from Libya this year. Italy says the figure is much lower, though calm summer seas may well bring a surge.

Italy and Germany are utterly opposed to Austria’s plan to build a fence at its border with Italy, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Thursday after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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