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Hungary plans to detain migrants in containers

February 9, 2017

Budapest has said all migrants will be sent to detention centers while their asylum applications are pending. Prime Minister Orban admitted that this puts his country is in "open conflict" with the European Union.

Grenze Ungarn - Serbien - Flüchtlinge
Image: DW/A.V. Pal

Hungary announced a new plan to house all refugees in shipping containers clustered into camps along its borders on Thursday. The measure will affect all migrants waiting for asylum applications to be processed, even if they are already being housed at another facility.

The move was the latest in a string of tough measures introduced by right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has made no secret of his antipathy to migrants. Orban has frequently locked horns with the European Union and other bloc leaders over his response to the refugee crisis, such as refusing to take part in the redistribution of refugees according to a quota system and building a razor-wire fence along his country's border with Serbia.

"People's freedom of movement will be removed, they will be able to stay only in a place designated for them," said Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, announcing the new plan at a press briefing. "This place will be the state border, where containers suitable for accommodating 200-300 people will be erected. Migrants will have to wait there for a legally binding decision on their claims."

Lazar added that the new regulations will only be implemented while the government has declared a state of emergency over mass migration, such as the one it is under now.

Orban: Hungary is in 'open conflict' with EU

Orban, a strong proponent of US President Donald Trump, has said such measures are necessary to stop terror attacks in Europe. The prime minister admitted that effectively imprisoning all migrants might go against EU law, but "any legal regulation that facilitates terror acts must be changed in the interests of our own self-defense."

The Hungarian leader made no bones about being in "open conflict" with the 28-member bloc. He has frequently referred to immigration as "poison" and said that Muslim refugees have no place in Christian Europe.

Despite receiving nearly 30,000 asylum applications in 2016, Hungary only granted asylum or similar protection to 425 people.

es/sms (AFP, AP)