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Nov 03, 2016

Austria sends 60 troops to Hungarian-Serbian border

Based at Hódmezővásárhely near Szeged in southeast Hungary for a six month posting, the Austrian soldiers are sappers who will help build roads and erect containers

Austria has sent 60 troops to Hungary's border with Serbia as Vienna's defense minister warned that the EU's migrants deal with Turkey was "showing cracks".

According to digitaljournal.com, Austria's defense ministry said that the soldiers will not be armed or be involved in intercepting people making it past Hungary's border fence with Serbia.

Based at Hódmezővásárhely near Szeged in southeast Hungary for a six month posting, the Austrian soldiers are sappers who will help build roads and erect containers.

Hungary has been criticized by human rights groups and others for its alleged mistreatment of refugees and its refusal to take in some of the huge numbers of refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015.

Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said that EU countries needed to do more to protect their borders because the bloc's accord with Turkey risked unravelling.

Under the EU-Turkey deal in force since March, Ankara agreed to take back migrants who made it to Greece in return for being allowed to send Syrians to the bloc in an orderly redistribution program.

However, Greece has been slow to send migrants back to Turkey. Athens says this is because many have applied for asylum which means that they cannot be moved until the claims are processed.

In addition, Greece complains that the EU has failed to provide additional assistance as promised and to share enough of the thousands of migrants around the bloc.

Athens wants to transfer some of the nearly 16,000 migrants on its islands to the mainland but faces opposition from EU partners who fear a mass resurgence of migrants heading north, Greek Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said Monday.