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Hungary to build fence on Romania border

September 15, 2015

Hungary has announced that it will build a fence on part of its border with Romania. The move comes as Budapest sealed its Serbian border in response to the refugee crisis sweeping across Europe.

Ungarn Grenze Migranten 15.09.2015
Image: Reuters/L. Balogh

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday that Hungary would also build a razor-wire fence along a part of its border with Romania, alongside the one being built on the Serbian frontier.

"The government has decided to make preparations for the construction of a fence on the Hungary-Romania border, extending from the border triangle of Hungary, Serbia and Romania, for a reasonable distance," Szijjarto told reporters at a press conference in the Hungarian capital Budapest.

"The measure is necessary as people-smugglers may change their routes because of the existing fence on the Hungary-Serbia border, hence a part of the immigration pressure may get directed towards Romania," Szijjarto said.

The anti-immigrant fence is expected to run approximately 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the Hungary-Romania border, which is almost 450 kilometers (280 miles) long.

The minister's comments come on the heels of Hungary's "state of emergency" declaration in response to thousands of refugees entering the country via its border with Serbia, effectively allowing the government to deploy the military as support to police on the Serbian frontier.

Ungarn Grenze Migranten 15.09.2015
At least 16 migrants were arrested by Hungarian authorities for "illegal border-crossing" on TuesdayImage: Reuters/D. Ruvic

'Iron curtain'

The move was strongly criticized by other European countries and human rights organizations, with the UN refugee agency stating that the new measures "are really alarming."

"The fence is an ugly reminder of the Iron Curtain, there's no other description for it," UNHCR spokesperson for Central Europe Babar Baloch told Canadian public radio.

Serbian Welfare Minister Aleksandar Vulin said that Hungary's decision to seal its border with Serbia did not solve the issue.

"Just yesterday they said they will seal the border to trespassing, but not to those willing to apply for asylum. As you see, this is totally different," Vulin told the AFP news agency. "Without cooperation with the Hungarian government, without the opening of this border, we will be unable to solve this problem."

Meanwhile, Hungary on Tuesday began arresting migrants for "illegal border-crossing", which carries a maximum prison sentence of three years. Authorities in Budapest registered a record 9,380 illegal border crossings on Monday.

ls/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)