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Hungarian military prepares to 'defend' border

September 10, 2015

The Hungarian army conducted military exercises ahead of possible deployment to its southern border to "defend" it from refugees crossing in from Serbia. Budapest has been criticized for its response to the crisis.

Ungarn errichtet Zaun an der Grenze zu Serbien
Image: Getty Images/A. Kurucz

According to Hungarian Chief of Staff General Tibor Benko, Hungary's army launched a military exercise called "Decisive Action" on Wednesday in order to prepare soldiers for possible deployment to the country's southern border with Serbia.

The exercise comes amid record numbers of migrants and refugees crossing into the central European country in a bid to enter the EU and declare asylum. Many of them are fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and heading for Germany via Austria.

"It is our job to make sure Hungary is defended," the general told the national television channel M1.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said legislation to deploy the army could not be passed before the end of September, although actions to increase the speed of a border fence should be expected.

"Everyone has to get ready to do intensive work in the coming weeks," Orban told a Hungarian newspaper, reported AFP news agency.

'Remember Aylan Kurdi?'

Meanwhile, Hungary's response to the refugee crisis has been criticized by human rights watchdogs, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

"Kids just passed out from exhaustion everywhere at Hungary border, remember Aylan Kurdi?" wrote Human Rights Watch's Emergency Director Peter Bouckaert on his Twitter account.

According to Hungarian police, more than 2,700 people were intercepted across the country on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a Hungarian camerawoman for a nationalist television channel was fired after she was filmed kicking refugees running from security personnel.

ls/bw (Reuters, AFP)