Hungary claims record daily migrant intake | News | DW | 25.08.2015
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Hungary claims record daily migrant intake

Hungarian police have said that a record number of migrants crossed the Serbian-Hungarian border on Monday. According to officials, 2,093 people made the journey.

Budapest announced the arrivals on Tuesday, only a few days before it is set to finish a border fence to keep asylum seekers out during the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Since Hungary is part of the European passport-free Schengen zone, many of the travelers hope to continue on to countries in Western Europe, such as Germany and Sweden.

The group is part of around 7,000 migrants who were stuck on the border between Greece and Macedonia. The latter declared a state of emergency and closed its borders, saying the high number of new arrivals had overwhelmed the small country.

Budapest's contentious refugee plan

The 2,093 arrivals are only some of the 100,000 migrants to have entered Hungary this year, double the figure for all of 2014. Budapest received 2,000 asylum applications in 2012.

Daily crossings have skyrocketed to an average of 1,500 in August since Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the construction of a barbed wire fence along its boundary with Serbia.

Grenze Serbien Ungarn Flüchtlinge Grenzübergang

Daily crossings have spiked since Hungary announced a new border fence would be built

The razor-wire barricade is intended to dissuade migrants from using Hungary as a passageway to other, wealthier EU member states. However, it may prove ineffective in keeping people out.

Halting border crossings is one part of tougher anti-migrant legislation. Orban's conservative government has introduced measures to tighten asylum laws and penalties for illegal entry. It is also planning to close permanent refugee camps.

Unraveling European solidarity?

The European Commission has pledged to give Hungary nearly $9.24 million (8 million euros) in aid to cope with the refugee crisis. However, the government has said more is needed, according to an interview with Prime Minister Orban's chief of staff published on Tuesday.

"The European Union distributes border protection funds in a humiliating way. Old member states have nicked the money from new members," Janos Lazar told the daily "Magyar Hirlap" newspaper.

The call for increased funding comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande met in Berlin on Monday. The duo called for an EU-wide system for the right to asylum, a proposal likely to be rejected by some member states. Newer EU countries such as Lithuania have already refused to participate in a mandatory migrant quota scheme, with Slovakia only willing to accept Christian refugees.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that more than 149,000 people fleeing by boat landed in Greece and almost 104,000 arrived in Italy in 2015. It also reports that at least 2,365 people died at sea - up from 1,779 in the same period of 2014.

German authorities are expecting to receive up to 800,000 asylum seekers in 2015.

kb/msh (AFP, EFE, Reuters)

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