Hungary to Deploy Police at Border with Serbia to Repel Migrants

EU | August 18, 2015, Tuesday // 21:22|  views

Migrants walk at the train station of Kiskunhalas, 145 km south of Budapest, Hungary, 13 August 2015. About 120,000 illegal migrants have arrived in Hungary this year and their number is expected to reach up to 300,000 by end-2015. EPA/BGNES

Hungary said on Tuesday it will send several thousand police officers to its southern border with Serbia to deter migrant influx, international news outlets reported on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, said the deployment of police was needed because of "increasingly aggressive migrants arriving with more resolute demands," according to AP.

"Several thousand police officers will be deployed to the Serbian border whose task will be to defend this border section," Reuters quoted Lazar as saying at a news conference.

The police force will guard the four-meter high fence being built along Hungary's 175-kilometre border with Serbia, Lazar said.

Some 130,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year. The number is three times as high as in all of 2014. The number of asylum seekers registered in Hungary this year has soared to 100,000 – more than double compared with 43,000 in the whole of 2014.

Hungary lies at the southern edge of the EU’s borderless Schengen zone which makes the country attractive to migrants seeking to enter the EU using the so-called Balkan route. Serbia's border with Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa fleeing conflict or poverty in their home countries.

Less than one percent of migrants, however, want to settle in Hungary. Instead, most migrants transit Hungary, hoping to reach Austria, Germany, Sweden and other wealthier European nations. 

Lazar also said that the government plans to change the penal code to make illegal border crossings and cutting through the fence punishable by several years in prison.

He added the government would also propose harsher penalties for human trafficking.

The announcement by Lazar came as the EU's border management agency Frontex said that the number of migrants who entered the EU last month topped 107,500, a new record.

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Tags:   Hungary, Serbia, Balkan Route, migrants, border, police, fence, penal code, human trafficking,  Frontex


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