Hungary mobilizes extra ′border hunters′ amid migrant influx | News | DW | 18.08.2015
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Hungary mobilizes extra 'border hunters' amid migrant influx

An unprecedented number of migrants crossing from Serbia into the EU state has overwhelmed authorities in Hungary. Budapest is vowing to increase aggressive enforcement along its frontier.

Hungary will send extra police officers to reinforce its border with Serbia, the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Tuesday.

Special police units of "border hunters" would be organized to step up efforts against the influx of the more than a thousand migrants crossing daily, Janos Lazar, the prime minister's chief of staff told reporters.

"Several thousand police officers will be deployed to the Serbian border whose task will be to defend this border section," Lazar told a news conference during a break in a cabinet meeting.

As part of the European Union and the Schengen zone of passport-free travel, Hungary is attractive to migrants seeking to join families and friends already established within the EU. Hungary has registered more than 100,000 migrants so far this year, compared with 43,000 in all 2014.

Most migrants are from poor or conflict-ridden countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and are fleeing civil war and strife.

Hungary erecting border fence

Soldiers building a border fence along Hungary-Serbia frontier.

Despite international criticism, Hungary has started building a fence along its border with Serbia to try to stop migrants entering from the south

Hungarian police have been detaining an average of 1,500 migrants a day for the past several weeks, including 2,087 on Sunday, the highest figure recorded to date.

In response, Hungary's cabinet plans to amend the penal code to make illegal border crossings and cutting through the 4-meter (13-foot) high fence being built on the 174 kilometer (109 mile) long border with Serbia punishable by several years in prison.

A special parliamentary session to approve the amendments could be held before the end of the month, Lazar said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a right-wing populist, has defended the strict measures by associating immigration with terrorism, increased crime and unemployment. His government was forced to act as the EU as a whole offers no solution, he has argued.

Frontex warns of ‘emergency situation'

This comes as Frontex - the EU's border agency - said Tuesday that the number of migrants entering the EU in July numbered more than 107,500, a new record with the majority Syrians and Afghans entering Greece from Turkey.

Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri called the developments "an emergency situation for Europe that requires all EU member states to step in."

Leggeri has urged the EU's 28 nations to provide more help for members Greece and Hungary, which have born the brunt of the influx.

Nearly 340,000 migrants were spotted at EU borders up to July, compared to 280,000 for all of last year.

The influx has come at a human cost with drownings occuring regularly. Almost 2,350 people have died at sea while attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

jar/se (AP, Reuters)

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