Upping quotas won't solve refugee crisis - expert

A policeman shows a refugee group the way to the registration office at the central train station in Munich, Germany (AAP)
A policeman shows a refugee group the way to the registration office at the central train station in Munich, Germany (AAP)

It's been a day of heightened security across several European countries as authorities boost efforts to control migrant numbers.

Austria has toughened controls at its eastern borders to clamp down on trafficking refugees, triggering a queue of vehicles that stretched 20km back into Hungary.

The operation uncovered 200 asylum seekers and five suspected smugglers.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner says the checks are not classic border controls.

"We have raised our efforts to fight international human smuggling by intensifying controls by the borders in the area next to the borders. These are not border controls; these are intensive tracing measures close to the border area."

Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann is expected to attend a church service this morning for the 71 refugees found dead in an abandoned truck last week.

More than 100,000 refugees reached the EU border last month, triple the number in August 2014. Otago University international relations expert Robert Patman says it's not just the war in Syria driving the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

"We live in a world where 20 percent of the world doesn't get enough to eat every day, 20 percent of the world cannot read or write, and 20 percent don't have access to safe drinking water," he said on the Paul Henry programme this morning.

"So given those inequities, we live in an interconnected world where goods and services can be moved with increasing speed, and as we found out, people can now be moved, transferred – either coercively or on a voluntary basis – also increasingly with considerable ease."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's called for other EU nations to do more to share the burden of this year's influx of migrants. Germany has taken more asylum seekers than any other EU country.

Immigration law specialist professor Thom Brooks says if countries won't take their fair share of migrants, then they should pay their neighbours to.

"The countries that are not accepting the larger numbers of people, for this agreement to work are going to have to cough up some cash."

Dr Patman says New Zealand should increase its refugee quota, which has been stuck at 750 for nearly three decades. Though it would be a step in the right direction, increasing refugee quotas won't solve the root causes of the problem.

"New Zealand can play its part on the Security Council, but I think two things have to happen. With respect to the short-term crisis in Europe, Europe has to develop a single asylum policy. At the moment they're squabbling over which country should take a certain number of refugees, but more generally, globally we do actually have to move away from this idea that these problems are someone else's problem.

"If you look at the Syrian crisis, between 2011 and 2015, 200,000 people have died in that country. The world has largely looked on, and now we're seeing the consequences of that indifference. We have to rethink what we mean by security; we also have to rethink what we understand to be sovereignty."

He backs New Zealand's strong stance against the veto wielded by the five permanent members of the Security Council - the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France – calling it "one of the biggest impediments to addressing some of the world's key problems".

"Russia used the veto three times to thwart resolutions which the United States and its partners were trying to push forward to bring about a transition in Syria which would avoid the sort of problems we're seeing."

Without being able to intervene in crises like Syria, Dr Patman says the UN has effectively become a bystander to the conflicts it was formed to prevent.

European authorities are giving France $8 million to build a camp for migrants in the port city of Calais.

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